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Acolyte were formed in Manchester in 2008 by guitarist Malekh and JT. After working on music for a while they became a quintet, releasing their debut EP ‘Leng’ in 2011. It took another couple of years for them to finally release this, their debut album, ‘Alta’, by which time the line-up was settled with the duo joined by Paul (bass), Brady (drums) and Chris (lead guitars). Although black metal is at the heart of what they do, I have also seen them called “progressive black metal”, “blackened groove metal” and “extreme prog metal” so whatever they are doing they don’t fit neatly into the normal view of the scene. The reason for the confusion is that although for the most part they do indeed fit very neatly into the centre of black metal, there is more than “just” that going on. Within their songs they shift from the guttural and abrasive to sections which are far more melodic, almost jazz-like, making one think of the late Sixties scene which is very different indeed to the rest of what is going on. Also, although they are using buzzsaw riffs, they have defined breaks and use stylistic shifts which are far more reminiscent of hard rock than of the black metal scene. Strangely, each time I start playing this album I feel it is far more basic than I remember and not as interesting or dynamic as I remembered, but as it continues to play I shift my opinion and by the end of it I am yet again a confirmed fan. JT may have the gruff and raw vocal attack favoured by many, but he is much more melodic with far clearer diction than many, which also adds to the impression that although they are a metal band, black metal is far more of a passion than it is a defining all consuming genre for them. Overall this is very interesting album indeed.
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