Achelous are a phenomenon: although the band has everything that epic heavy metal fans usually love, they are still a kind of insider tip. Frankly, I don’t quite know why this is the case – but it says a lot about our scene, which always likes to focus on certain bands that are particularly talented in terms of self-promotion or marketing and are also supported by the right people, be it in extremely benevolent reviews or with invitations to renowned festivals. Perhaps Achelous are too down-to-earth and modest to generate maximum attention in these superficial times? Whatever the reason, the quintet from Hellas is incredibly likeable and authentic. We will therefore (continue to) give them as much support as possible!
The Icewind Chronicles is the second studio album by the Greeks, who have been making music under this name since 2011 – singer Chris Kappas recently already told us a lot about the new record in an interview with our blog. On the lyrical level, the farewell to ancient themes, first and foremost Alexander the Great, is remarkable. Achelous are open to new ideas – Chris commented on this as follows:
Our main lyrical direction is history, mythology and fantasy. We like to tell stories with our songs, and we did a whole album about Alexander the Great. After that we felt we didn’t need to do that on this album as well. We love fantasy literature and especially the Icewind Dale books. I’m a huge fan of the series and also have a big tattoo of Drizzt Do’Urden on my left leg, so an album about the Forgotten Realms and Icewind Dale was a no-brainer!!!!Interview, 18/02/2022.
Musically, however, not much has changed compared to the outstanding previous album Macedon (2018): The Greeks know how to write powerful epic heavy metal anthems that cause one adrenaline rush after another. Unlike some of their competitors in the genre, Achelous have mastered the art of writing songs that have a high recognition value and remain in the ear for a long time. The in all respects epic opener “Northern Winds“ alone, which was already released in 2021 on the EP of the same name and was one of my highlights of the last year, qualifies the musicians for the Champions League. As with most of the numbers, you feel transported to a rousing fantasy movie in which adventurousness and heroism are at the centre.
But Achelous can not only do that: especially in “Mithril Hall“, dreamy, melancholic tones dominate – a circumstance that is not least due to the performance of Christina Petrogianni, whose angelic voice provides plenty of variety. And this brings us to another strength of the Southern Europeans: Their music is characterised by a remarkable richness of facets, which is by no means a matter of course in this genre. The same applies to the powerful, clear sound, which intensifies the effect of the songs and also shows what excellent musicians are at work here.
If you don’t have much time, you should, in my opinion, check out the aforementioned gem “Northern Winds“ or the closing track “Outcast“: the latter brings all the band’s strengths to the point and can certainly be called one of the strongest compositions from their pen. Anyone who doesn’t order this album after that has never loved epic heavy metal!
Conclusion: Achelous prove once again that Greeks have a knack for completely kitsch-free, captivating epicness. It is to be hoped that the band will be back on stage soon, as their numbers will undoubtedly bring the crowd to the boil live. Even though The Icewind Chronicles is not quite on par with Macedon for me yet (!), we are definitely dealing with a highlight of the year that should not be missing in any collection.