Review: Antyra – Poiema

Written by Mario Wolski, translation by Epic Metal Blog. The German original was published by our colleagues from Saitenkult. We thank them for allowing us to use the text for our blog.

Release: 29/04/2022

When the chronicler raises the word, his voice trembles with zeal, the old look up from the jug, the waverer takes new courage. The gods show you the way, their word you now hear, when the chronicler raises the word….

This beginning alone, this polyphonic chorus… If you are not already hooked by the cover and title and the ancient theme, you will be drawn into the world of ancient legends in the opening of the album. Not only Bilbo’s dwarves are able to sing magical choruses, but also Savatage and the Leipzig epics Antyra.

The band formed in 2006, and their first EP In The Fields Of Marathon was followed by their debut album Pentachronist, which contains five short stories about the five elements. With “Asgard“ they were part of a Therion tribute. And now David Thieme (vocals, keyboards), his brother Sebastian (guitars, vocals, growls), Falk Mittenentzwei (bass, screams, vocals) and drummer Kevin Winter tell stories about the abysses of antiquity. It’s about myths, but it’s also about historical events.

The rather speedy “Phaeton“, for example, tells about the son of Helios. He was determined to steer his father’s sun chariot. But he turned a deaf ear to every warning that he would not be able to restrain the horses. Antyra go all out to create tension. Dramatic riffs, polyphonic singing, tempo changes, growls. It should be clear when Phaeton sets off with the chariot, only Zeus with his lightning could save the inhabitants of the world from a catastrophe. Yes, this is an ancient legend, but also a parable for today.

The songs on the album are accompanied by short poems in the beautifully designed booklet, which shed additional light on the theme. Especially in the songs Antyra use a very figurative language, sometimes they play with meanings, build double bottoms. This sometimes reminds one of bands that played with words in the former GDR, also to circumvent censorship. So here you tend to listen just as closely as with Renft or early Karat.

Awesome melody leads and great epic riffing open “Die Türme von Kadesh“. This is about a battle that Ramses II fought against the army of the Hittites around 1274 BC. The battle was lost, and a few years later the parties concluded what is probably the first peace treaty in world history. The song is as varied as the course of the battle. The acoustic, sad and beautiful “Quod Erat Demonstrandum“ tells of the death of Archimedes (“Do not disturb my circles!”) and is a pleasantly quiet moment on the album. Instrumentally, things continue in “Ishtar’s Revenge (Archaia Sonata)“. Harmonic, classical-sounding motifs are found in conflict with black metal blasts. The band actually shimmies along the classical form of the sonata main movement.

Yes, “Hungry Lions“ sounds a bit like medieval rock. But appearances are deceptive. The only song in English is not a song to celebrate but tells about the life of the Roman gladiators. They fought in the circus, were part of “Bread and Games“. But they knew it could end soon. They drank and celebrated all the more exuberantly before greeting each other the next morning. “Ave Caesar! Morituri te salutant!” Yes, it sounds like a drinking song, but then really merry is different. The next change of mood, towards the warlike follows. We remain in the empire, only further north. In 9 AD, one of the most famous battles in world history took place. The Varus Battle Museum in Kalkriese should get permission to play the play “Blood Toll in the Barbarian Forest“ for visitors.

Whether gladiator or legionnaire, car driver or metal fan, life hangs by a thread. This gloomy hymn, also the longest song, deals with the Moirs, also known as Parcenes through Rome. Three women, the youngest Klotho, who spins the thread of life, the middle one, Lachesis, measures it out. Then the oldest, the blind Atropos, cuts it off, so that man must take the path to Hades. The poison of belladonna, atropine, received its name after her. Gloom, drama, blackness, remember death and enjoy your life. The concluding instrumental “Sumerian Dream“ refers once again to the mythology of Ishtar and Gilgamesh. It begins quietly, dreamily. But more and more dark, threatening tones creep in. Will the bad dream become real, or will the dreamer awaken? That is something everyone should hear for themselves.

For me, Poiema is not just a strong album. It is, for many probably out of nowhere, a candidate for one of the epic metal albums of the year. It’s bursting with ideas, it tells stories, tempts you to listen, read along and re-read. Listening to Antyra and getting good old Gustav Schwab (The Most Beautiful Legends of Classical Antiquity – author’s note) out of the shelf, that will probably soon belong together for many. Those who find themselves musically with Therion should feel just as comfortable as a fan of Hammerheart by Bathory. Likewise, anyone who enjoys Atlantean Kodex or Ash of Ashes should lend an ear. So, all you epics, dig in.

Even Zeus draws nine (from ten) thunderbolts from his quiver to honour the tellers of these legends.

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