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Astronomikon - "Dark Gorgon Rising" (CD)

Astronomikon - "Dark Gorgon Rising" CD cover image

"Dark Gorgon Rising" track listing:

1. Ad Astra Per Aspera (0:48)
2. Anatolia (4:20)
3. Son of Seriphos (4:59)
4. Witch Hunter (4:24)
5. The Spell I'm Under (4:19)
6. Dramatis Personae (4:49)
7. Dark Gorgon Rising (5:30)
8. Bloodborn (4:23)
9. The Stone Abomination (3:49)
10. For You I Will Die Young (4:31)
11. A Sad Day at Argos (3:38)
12. Perseas Eurymedon (6:40)

Reviewed by on March 13, 2013

"Astronomikon has much more depth than the band gets credit for, as lazy inconsiderate critics tend to slap the fashionable and half-assed power metal tag across the Medusa adorned cover art."

For a small island, Cyprus is a highly developed and explosive metal scene with acts of all subgenres making waves worldwide. When I first heard about the prospects of another act featuring Arrayan Path members (here mainly bassist Paris Lambrou and vocalist Nicholas Leptos, but 4/6 of AP take part), I was eager for more. Truth is, Arrayan Path is one of those highly underrated acts that has been lost in a sea of power/progressive bands, but who deserve way more attention than the metal world currently gives. Astronomikon, created in 2010, is yet another vehicle for which part of the AP creative team can inject more great metal into the world. “Dark Gorgon Rising” proves much more than a mere side project of hold over songs until the next Arrayan Path album…it is actually one of the surprise releases of 2013.

To satisfy the genre tagger, Astronomikon plays power metal the way power metal fans desire it – charging anthems with “astronomikal” vocals. I know when I mention the words “power metal,” the idea of Gamma Ray and early Helloween may dance in the head, but Astronomikon has much more depth than the band gets credit for, as lazy inconsiderate critics tend to slap the fashionable and half-assed power metal tag across the Medusa adorned cover art. Yeah, there are galloping riffs (see title track), rafter shaking vox (“For You I Will Die”) and flamboyant choruses (“Perseas Eurymedon), but that is just the mere tip of a much deeper iceberg. The band presents beautifully weaved cultural aspects into the work, as shown in “A Sad Day At Argos.”

For this writer, the stand out track is the overwhelming “Dramatis Personae.” I hope the ears of more attentive critics pay attention instead of passing over “Dark Gorgon Rising,” as this song should easily find its way into the best song lists of 2013. The enchanting melody and scintillating vocal performance of Leptos easily persists in the mind in perpetuum. Leptos sounds like the modern era’s Tony Moore, the best example of which can be found on album favorite “The Stone Abomination,” which lulls the listener into a doom like trip from the onset before bursting out into 2013’s version of “Immortal Soul.”

The story of “Dark Gorgon Rising” is based on the myth of Perseus, the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology, who killed Medusa, tamed Pegasus, and claimed Andromeda. The topic of ancient history is not new to metal, especially in the last year with conceptual releases from Grave Digger, Rebellion, and Ex Deo, but that is secondary to this highly enjoyable musical gem. The story adds an element of Rhapsody to the mix.

My appeal to metal fans is that when wading through the dense waters of power metal, do not pass up Astronomikon’s debut. What awaits should garner more than the shoddy tag, for fans of traditional and power will find equal joy in “Dark Gorgon Rising.” With any luck, the gods have now been awakened and Arrayan Path will rise from its two year slumber.

Highs: Fantastic musicianship and vocals with a touch of flamboyance. Power metal the way it should be.

Lows: Concept story is a bit overused, especially in the last year.

Bottom line: Astronomikon proves more than just another "power metal" act, with a debut album release that pleases the gods.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)