Athon – “Athon” (Argonauta Records)
Battle Helm Rating
If your veins bleed for the soul-destroying sludge pioneered by Crowbar, then this excellent debut from Athon does a splendid follow up while also offering plenty of stoner to create a mind bending extra! Formed in the alpine town of Varese in 2014, Athon have been steadily building themselves up in the Italian underground, both through gigging and composing until they were ready to be signed by Argonauta to release this generous 5 track self-titled album. Opening with the 7 1/2 minute ‘Kaleidogscope’ (yes, there’s a dog in the band foto), it’s a mix of stoner psych during its lighter moments, but offset by sludge that is an ominous foreteller of darker things to come. Indeed, as the crushing waves of droning sludge hit you on ‘Dakhma’, the twin guitars of Ame and Caste go to work in brilliantly conjuring up death ‘n’ roll grooves reminiscent of Celtic Frost – their neighbours over the Alps in Switzerland – as you literally feel the awesome power over the mountains – wow! Continuing on the superb 6 1/2 minute ‘Reverse Satyr’, the sludge takes a more laid-back Southern groove as the guitars blend with Manu’s bass to create a thick sound over which the band drawls and roars using multiple vocals while drummer Giona displays his percussive skills through plenty of varying snare beats before the song ends in instrumental trippy psych. Closing with the near 7 minute ‘Absinthe’, it’s a return to the gargantuan sludge of droning riffs with an epic touch but offset by quieter moments laced by feedback and Manu’s bass strings before the volume comes crashing back in dramatic contrast to the song’s trippier moments of hippy harmonies and even space rock sounds. Like I said, this is an impressive debut spanning the breath of stoner, sludge and psych rock from a band keen to spread their wings as well as their name of Athon!