Akhenhaten – Incantations Through The Gates Of Irkalla

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/Label: MurdHer Records and Darzamadicus Records
Distributor/Label URL: MurdHer Records and Darzamadicus Records
Released: 2016
Buy Album: Akhenhaten Bandcamp
Band Website: Akhenaten Facebook

Akhenhaten Cover

Band Line-up:

Jerred Houseman – Guitars, Drums & Bass,
Wyatt Houseman – Vocals.

Track Listing:

1. Incantations Through The Gates Of Irkalla
2. The Watchers
3. Enlil: Lugal Kurk Ur Ra
4. Ninurta: The Fall Of Anzu
5. The Passage Through Flames
6. Brahma Astra
7. Anunnaki
8. Apkallu: Seven Of The Abzu
9. Mis Pi
10. Golden Palace Of The Lamassu
11. Abu Simbel
12. Anubis (Septic Flesh cover)


Named after one of the more infamous pharaohs of Ancient Egypt (once known as Amenhotep IV), Colorado’s AKHENHATEN pedal a self-styled “blackened Mesopotamian folk/death metal” with an emphasis on Middle Eastern instrumentation. The result is an interesting mix.

Fans of NILE will instantly be drawn in (not least because of the Egyptian name for the band), but opener “Incantations Through The Gates Of Irkalla” would not be out of place on an opus by the South Carolina quartet (nor Karl Sanders’ solo records). It’s dark, mysterious and a wonderfully cinematic introduction to the band’s sophomore release. “The Watchers” bursts the bubble with frantic riffing and blast beats, all with that distinctive Mesopotamian sound. Yet the immediate transition to “Enlil: Lugal Kurk Ur Ra” highlights a weakness “Incantations…” has- the mix.

On their own, tracks like “The Watchers”, “Golden Palace Of The Lamassu” or “Mis Pi” sound fine and balanced, but often where the Middle Eastern passages meet the black metal the mix becomes unbalanced. Listen to the transition between “The Watchers” and “Enlil…” – it sounds off by some margin. It’s very off-putting especially when there is clearly some excellent music to behold: the Middle Eastern passages are phenomenally well-written, whilst the black metal is delectably ferocious. Yet the two together just haven’t been gelled well.

Naturally, the genre has a history of iffy mixes, but where AKHENHATEN fuses two, it requires both to be strong. Whilst NILE rarely layer the two together (instead using their “ethnic” passages as transitions), their mix is exemplary. AKHENHATEN’s sophomore shouldn’t suffer a poor mix because the album’s pretty good once you suspend noticing the shortfall.

Review by: Lee Carter