Jan 172016

Nechochwen-Heart of Akamon


Well, you may have noticed that I’ve let three days go by since posting my last installment in this evolving list. I won’t bore you with the reasons. Instead, let’s move right on to the two songs I’m adding to the list today (to see the songs added to the list previously, go HERE).


2015 proved to be a breakout year for this unique West Virginia band. Though Nechochwen’s first two albums (Algonkian Mythos and Azimuths To the Otherworld) and his 2012 EP (OtO) received praise from discerning listeners and critics, 2015’s Heart of Akamon has appeared on a huge number of year-end lists, including a substantial percentage of the more than 50 we posted here on our own site.


Nechochwen band


In both its conception and its execution, Heart of Akamon is a rarity. Conceptually, it continues its principal creator’s devotion to telling histories of Native American tribes of the Eastern Woodland. Musically, it beautifully combines classically inclined and neofolk-oriented acoustic guitar, Native American flute melodies, and the weight and ferocity of blackened metal — along with some wonderful guitar solos — to produce an experience that (to quote one reviewer) is “atmospheric, intense, and grandiose”.

The album includes a lot of compelling melodies (including in the killer instrumental metal track “Skyhook”), but I think the song that best deserves the adjective “infectious” is the opening song, “The Serpent Tradition“.








Obsequiae-Aria Of Vernal Tombs


I’ve tended to think of Heart of Akamon and Obsequiae’s Aria of Vernal Tombs as musical cousins who both stepped into the spotlight in 2015. The two bands shared a member on these two albums (Andrew Della Cagna), Nechochwen himself contributed guest vocals on some of the tracks, and both are unusual and highly accomplished meldings of metal and non-metal musical traditions. And both have been praised far and wide.

When I’ve tried to succinctly describe Aria of Vernal Tombs to people who are unfamiliar with Obsequiae, I falter, and usually stammer out, “Well, it’s like a combination of medieval music and something like atmospheric black metal. There’s harp music on the album, too, and the guitars kind of sound like bagpipes or flutes sometimes. Really interesting lyrics, too”.

That’s such an utterly unsatisfying description. It doesn’t come close to doing justice to the brilliance of the ideas and meticulousness of the craftsmanship manifested on the album, and it equally falls short of capturing the depth of the band’s success in integrating disparate sounds and musical traditions and the magnetic attraction of the melodies. Tanner Anderson and company have made something truly triumphant.

When an album even includes interludes (performed here by Spanish harpist Vicente La Camera Mariño) that vie so strongly for affection with the rest of the songs, picking something to acclaim as “most infectious” is an especially tough challenge. Truth is, I have almost as many favorites on this album as there are songs to be heard on it — and I have no doubt that many devoted fans would give the nod to something other than what I chose for this list, such as “Autumnal Pyre” or “Pools of A Vernal Paradise” or “Anlace and Heart”. What I picked was the glorious “Orphic Rites of the Mystic“.



  1. Absolutely love both of these releases. Porbably would’ve chosen Lost on the Trail of the Setting Sun from Heart of Akamon personally, but there’s too many great choices on that album to go wrong. Obsequiae continues to have an altogether singular sound as well.

    • Both albums were delicious collections of wonderful songs. Very hard to pin down either one of them to a single song. I hope that this post will at least convince newcomers to their music to go exploring in depth.

  2. Obsequiae made my list and Nechochwen was an honorable mention. Medieval madness. Love the Native American touch to Heart of Akamon.

  3. Both really good releases, Obsequiae was amazing and while I dont think I was quite as in love with Nechochwen as some here, it was still a top-notch album

  4. Obsequiae might be my favorite anything from 2015. Can’t wait to see what they do next.

  5. Obsequiae was a magical find. I’m a classical musician with a great love for medieval music; the world of trouveres and troubadors. I also take great interest in the so-called Gothic renaissance of the 12th Century – having taken Thomas Aquinas as my confirmation name, it bears on my soul. Obsequiae’s ability to pay homage to not only the musical trappings but the ideas and aesthetics of this long-gone age is amazing. While not a technical or progressive metal album, per se, there is no doubt that Aria of Vernal Tombs is one of the most intellectually astute metal releases I’ve ever encountered.

    I only recently listened to Heart of Akamon, and while I can’t say it impressed me quite as much as Aria of Vernal Tombs, it’s still a great album. I’ve never been a huge fan of most European black metal derived folk metal (outside of the Irish school, I find it rather musically hollow). But Nechochwen clearly has some very interesting ideas about how to create a truly American folk metal. I can only compare it to Panopticon’s amazing Kentucky in terms of how deeply integrated American traditional music is in the album’s DNA.

  6. I don’t know why, but I can’t get into the Obsequiae…nothing hooks me. Am I doing it wrong? On the other hand, I’m really glad to see Nechochwen included on the Most Infectious list this year. What an album!

  7. These picks please me.

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