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Athorn - Phobia 4/5

Reviewed: 9-1-10


1. Angel of the fall
2. Emperor of ruins
3. Humanize the demon
4. Phobia – prologue
5. Phobia
6. After the end
7. A matter of time
8. From beyond
9. The ferryman
10. Schizophrenia

Newcomers to the metal scene, Germany ’s Athorn are described as a power/thrash metal band. Formed in 2008 by 4 friends from Lower Saxony, outside of Hanover, they were connected by performing in local Hanovian thrash metal bands. Guitarist Tobias Liedke and bassist Thomas Maiwald left the fledging Zelyon, while drummer Sören Becker comes from another thrash band Cripper (who Maiwald also used to be in as well). 2nd guitarist Stefan Aedo is the 4th member of the band and friends with all 3.

On search for a vocalist to complete the group, keen singers came and went throughout the rehearsals until the right man for the job was found – enter Carsten Frank. Now if you are wondering where you’ve heard that name before, Carsten Frank is the ex-vocalist for power metal band Galloglass and most recently the power/thrash band Human Fortress. Frank joined Human Fortress for their 3rd (and not so good) CD called ‘Eternal empire’, after original vocalist Jioti Parcharidis left the band.

Now that the line-up was complete, the band pressed on like all bands do and made the music they love. Their first piece of material was a self-released 4-track EP (plus a music video) entitled ‘Livable hatred’. After the EP was praised by local German magazines and also given the thumbs up by Nevermore guitarist Jeff Loomis, Athorn were signed up by German label AFM Records. Now the band concentrated on the recording of their debut CD, which is called ‘Phobia’.

Athorn make a claim that their music is best to be called symbionic metal. Now, not knowing what symbionic means, I went to the trusty “Yahoo Answers” and the term is derived from biology, meaning the interdependence of different species. So what I’m guessing is that each member of the band can bring their own musical ideas and thoughts to the table, but they are also responsible for each other as a group and sharing the individual ideas of each person. In metal terms, and going by what ‘Phobia’ sounds like, is that their style of metal is not just black and white power/thrash metal. Athorn also have traces of progressive metal in their sound, which in turn gives off an atmospheric feel. Throw in some groove metal, harmony and melody to go along with the cutting riffs and pounding drumming that is found within ‘Phobia’ and you’ll know that this band is quite open-minded and versatile. In short, you really just need to listen to the CD to understand why they consider themselves to be symbionic metal. So, let’s get on with it then...

“Angel of the fall” kicks off the CD, with the track giving off a sombre feel with chunky low-end guitar riffs and heavy bass. Frank Carsten sings quite aggressively, somewhat husky and is not afraid to bellow out a few growls here and there. Technical progressive/thrash would be the word to describe the track. The CD moves on with “Emperor of ruins”, this containing almost black metal fast drumming in parts with again low-end thrashy guitar riffs. With some groove metal in the catchy chorus, it makes for a melodic feel. Carsten again sings with raspy aggression and the song is quite memorable and enjoyable.

All of the 10 tracks on the CD are slowish to mid-paced in speed, except for the track “A matter of time”, which picks up the pace somewhat; but nowhere near the speed as you’d expect from traditional thrash metal. Aside from being quicker, “A matter of time” is quite ferocious and heavy, with crushing guitar riffs to keep your head banging. Song diversity is running rich within this CD, with each track fairly different from the other. 4 running themes can be found throughout the CD, however, and that would be power, technicality, aggression and emotion. Without wanting to give too much away from the remainder of the songs on the CD, (aside from the tracks already mentioned) I would say that “After the end” (melodic modern power/thrash), “The ferryman” (semi-ballad, Nevermore sounding), “Phobia” (emotional power-ballad) and “Humanize the demon” (power/progressive/thrash combination) as the best tracks on the CD.

One of the best things about ‘Phobia’ is that it is quite different to what is currently out there and definitely a breath of fresh air. For a band to combine so many attributes of popular metal genres and mix it all together, with the end result not being chaotic or sporadic is a big tick for these guys. Not overly technical either, Athorn have incorporated progressive metal creatively well into their music, but not too much that it becomes irritating or overpowering. I can see fans of many genres really getting into this release, and why not? Athorn will certainly impress the masses with ‘Phobia’, not only for the craftsmanship of the musicians involved, but also that they were able to produce something fresh, something relatively new and something this good on their debut CD. Athorn, I take my hat off to you, well done.




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