Album Review: Varathron – “Patriarchs of Evil”

Let go the swamp already

Unbeknown to many casual fans of Hellenic black metal, Varathron did not fall off after His Majesty at the Swamp. Similarly, many will proclaim that Varathron have regained their sound with this album. But, for one thing, Patriarchs of Evil has a lot in common with the ambitious and underrated Crowsreign. Not to mention it boasts a real drummer, unlike early Varathron. To say that the band has made some kind of comeback is to deny their legacy, as well as their earned triumph with this album, their sixth in 30 years. Patriarchs of Evil is a success worthy of celebration because it combines the golden gauntleted melodies of early Varathron, the courage to write complex songs carried on from the Crowsreign-era, not to mention the spellbinding drumming of Haris Kokkinos, who’s been with the swampkings since 2004. (No offense to Wolfen.)

Everything that Hellenic black metal has come to stand for—the black sails guitar leads, the irresistible catchiness of the explosive song arrangements, even the drums that seem to mimic the staccato and inhuman style of the subgenre’s early days—Varathron exemplify and cast in gold on Patriarchs of Evil. And Varathron now tower above the sub-subgenre they helped create.

Last year we celebrated Disharmony’s 20-some-year-delayed debut full-length in all its Hellenic glory. Now, in 2018, we are given Varathron’s best album to date. Not a return to form, Patriarchs of Evil is Varathron reaching their consummate form.