I really used to like Rotting Christ. I discovered them through their 2013 release Κατά τον δαίμονα εαυτού and listened back through their discography to find many other gems in their history. Why am I bringing this up here? Well, right before Rotting Christ started to lose steam with a – in my point of view – quite disappointing Rituals (2016), Katavasia entered the scene of Hellenic, melodic black metal with their debut Sacrilegious Testament in 2015. Unfortunately I missed this record back then. I now get to redeem myself by checking their upcoming second full length, Magnus Venator.
Katavasia is a Greek black metal “alliance” as they call it, consisting of members from other well known black metal acts. We have Stefan Necroabyssious from Varathron on vocals, Astrous (Aenaon) and D.K. (Melan Selas / Riffobia) on guitars, Achilleas C. on guitars & bass (Varathron / Aenaon) and Foivos on drums (Hail Spirit Noir / Agnes Vein). With such a mighty lineup, one expects an epic offering of Hellenic black metal, and Katavasia do not disappoint. In fact, for those uninitiated in the sounds of Greek black metal, Magnus Venator might be a perfect summary and entry drug.
The record opens with Daughters Of Darkness, which immediately had me hooked. We get an energetic opening riff backed by blast beats that lay the foundation for Necroabyssious to deliver his signature snarling vocals and an absolutely haunting chorus. Then the pace slows down a bit for a kick-ass heavy metal / rock riff and sweet lead guitar melodies. And before we speed it up again for a thrilling finale, we have a break with some well placed Greek folk melodies. Hellenic black metal in a nutshell, and Katavasia are just getting started. Throughout Magnus Venator, they mix typical black metal with rocking heavy metal riffs, beautiful epic guitar melodies, throw in the occasional acoustic folk passage and perfectly positioned choir parts that give the record this distinctly Greek black metal feeling. The vocals are absolute addictive and will have quite a few earworms in stock for you – I am still sometimes mumbling Blood Be My Crown throughout the day, randomly shout Hordes Of Oblivion or feel the need to bow to the Sinistral Covenant. All this is held together by flawless songwriting that shows lots of experience and confidence from the band. This is clearly a band of veterans that know what they want and how to get it. As cherry on top of this killer of a record, the production is absolutely great. It is clear and polished without sounding sterile.
In summary, Magnus Venator gets a clear recommendation from my side and makes me want to check out all the other band projects of the members from this alliance more in detail. I also feel that this record has a huge hit potential and might reach beyond the realms of black metal fans, to reach a much wider audience – in my humble opinion it clearly should!