Review: Achelous – Northern Winds

News have reached us that Hepaithos has been forging again. With the help of the River God Achelous they now present to us a piece of pure epic steel from Hellas, Northern Winds! On the occassion of their tenth anniversary, Achelous from Athens initially planned to celebrate with «great gigs and restless parties», yet as we all know this was not to be possible. Thus, they found a different way to celebrate by going into the studio and recording some epic stuff. So while the full-length is already in the mixing process, the Greek five-piece decided to release this EP, not only including a first single for the upcoming album but also recalling some of the most special moments in the band’s history!

Originally formed as an one man project by guitar, bass and keyboard player Chris Achelous, vocalist Chris Kappas (Ex-Reflection) joined the band in 2013. Together they released the band’s first official demo Al Iskandar, with three songs in 2014 which sold out in only three months. The following year they released the EP The Cold Winds of Olympus and in 2018 the time had finally come, Achelous released their debut album Macedon! The combination of straight-forward Hellenic Epic Metal with dominant atmospheric passages creates an absolutely epic sound reminding of the likes of early Battleroar, Validor, Wishdoom or Reflection. And of course does storytelling play a big role. Besides Macedonian history, Greek mythology as well as fantastical battles are the subject of Achelous‘ songs. Storytelling will also be a key aspect of the upcoming album The Icewind Chronicles, as it is set in the world of R.A. Salvatore’s The Icewind Dale Trilogy.

Chris Achelous, Chris Kappas, George Mavrommatis, Vicky Demertzi, Giannis Roussis

The eponymous track on this EP is the first teaser for the new album and in my opinion it’s a great choice! It is a heavy song that steadily progresses until it culminates in a powerful and energetic chorus. Throughout the pounding yet slow riffs it is really atmospheric which suits the descriptive lyrics offering an exciting introduction into this new world. «The River God», one of the first three songs on Al Iskandar, can be considered as the band hymn – you might remember the hint I made at the beginning of this review. While the song «Al Iskandar» of the demo got a refurbished version on Macedon it is «The River God» on this EP and I must admit that it benefits the song. The emotional sound as well as the epic keyboards now stand out even more!

The three live versions on this EP were also chosen very well. They do not only have a special meaning to the band but also portray a nice contrast to the first two rather atmospheric songs. The titletrack of the band’s debut album Macedon is the highlight of the band’s discography! It’s a powerful yet very melodic song with an awesome atmospheric intro. It simply bubbles over with energy, which one can feel in the live recording and the emotions just become untamable! The climax is reached in the song’s unbelievable chorus which in my opinion just embodies the spirit of the new wave of Epic Metal! And as it was the first song the band played when they first presented their debut album it is very dear to all of them! «Myrmidions» was recorded at the band‘s first concert abroad at the Malta Doom Festival 2018. This too is a really energetic song which demonstrates the quality and raw energy in The Cold Winds of Olympus. Last but not least «Warriors with Wings», also from Macedon, which was recorded live at the Kyttaro Club in 2019. Also an energetic as well as catchy song, making the crowd go wild! At this concert, Achelous was sharing the stage with mighty Battleroar and Lonewolf. Gigs like this stick in the memory forever and keep up the optimism when everything else is dark!

Conclusion: In my opinion, this is the perfect EP, one epic new song, a great remaster of an old song as well as three exclusive live versions! This EP does not only make me look forward to the upcoming second album but also makes me yearn for seeing this band live one day! This is a direct appeal to every fan of Hellenic Epic Metal: Go and support this great band who at the same time are some of the kindest people I’ve ever communicated with!

Happy Birthday Achelous, thank you for the ten years of pure Hellenic epicness!

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