Melan Selas is a black metal duo from Trikala (Greece) formed in 2016, whose members serve a respectable stint in their local music scene: guitar player D.K. plays in thrashers Riffobia, while Astraea’s raspy utterances can also be heard in melodic black metallers Oletir. The project debuted with a self-titled EP, released the year of their inception through Metal Throne Productions, and, this year, they return with Ῥέον, a newly-released compilation featuring two brand-new epics, and a re-release of their Melan Selas EP (for the first time in vinyl format).
Melan Selas’ blackened music gushes like a dark and murky entity that absorbs all light, tumbling down on the listener. After a folky introduction, “Orkos” forces its authority as in a warlike march. While being only halfway through the song, it is obvious that D.K. chose to refrain from the simple, repeating song-structures of the EP, producing a number that is conquering in spirit and abundant in bulky, melodic riffing. By the time the song ends, it is undeniable that we have been taken into an epic sonic journey. “Aema”, which comes next, follows along the same, albeit “powerful”, lines. Generally, the new songs are longer in length and richer in depth. It is also quite apparent that newer elements have been added to the band’s sound, e.g. the confident doses of speed, the introduction of clean vocals (either prose or operatic), the more prominent leads, etc.
Entering side B of the vinyl, we are greeted by the symphonic intro of “Ethereal Annihilation”, setting the tone for the tremolo-picked maelstrom that is about to follow, while the lyrics lament those on the verge of extinction. “Ancient Spirit’s” mid-tempo, heavy metal comes pounding, though with a crawling atmosphere, especially during the repeated, eerie arpeggiated part. Album closer “Selana” is nothing else but a hymn to the pale deity, the goddess of the moon, Selene. The song’s title is connected to the word selas, meaning “(glowing) light” – a recurring theme in Astraea’s lexicon. Just as the dark light referenced in band’s name contrasts with Selene’s luminance, the song, too, features a notable antithesis in its structure with its gloomy main section building up to a powerful bridge, and back again. For the most part, the band’s aesthetics and lyrical content are comprised of metaphors and visions of Greek antiquity and nature, with a strong focus on Greece’s pagan past.
Despite the shared influences of both Melan Selas and Oletir (Astraea’s other band), and the common denominator that is the singer’s captivating voice, one can tell the two bands apart. While Oletir pay their tribute to the Hellenic black metal sound with characteristic melodic leads and riffs that draw heavily on Varathron, Melan Selas’ debt of honour is mostly found in the rhythm department with their bass-driven, power chord strums –occasionally backed by subtle keyboard lines–, and their faster, galloping outbursts, though melodies do frequently appear, as they play an important role to the band’s overall sound as well. Ῥέον sees the band treading faithfully between the warm mid-tempo riffing [infused by traditional heavy metal (possibly received through Bathory’s late 80s output), and (to a lesser degree) thrash elements], mixed with bleak atmospheric passages (“Ancient Spirit”, “Selana”), and the modest use of folk/traditional songwriting, fundamental elements that were brought about with the signature Greek black metal sound of the early 1990s.
Signing off, I would like to echo the statement made in album’s press release that Melan Selas is by no means a nostalgia act. Although there are hardly any boundaries pushed, the band offers a fresh and interesting take on what is presently known as Hellenic black metal. To my mind, what the duo offers here is a heartfelt end result of pure expression, emerging from their “blood”; the blood found not in the veins, but in the spirit. And the “blood” of Melan Selas flows black… and strong!
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Avantgenre: Hellenic Black Metal
Official site: None
Review online since: 18.08.2018 / 14:00:00
01 – Orkos
01 – Ethereal Annihilation