The cassette has really made a cult resurgence in the last while. To me I remember growing up fixing unspooled cassettes with a biro or joining ripped bits of tape together again with cellotape. So when tapes faded out I thought good riddance. But now all these years later I get Autarch’s cassette release of “Death of Actiacus” in the post and I think bollocks I must dust off the old cassette deck which has been sitting in a cardboard box full of other old crap all these years. So after a slight dusting off I pop the Autarch tape in, then the nostalgia of eighties tape trading comes back. And I get to thinking, you know it wasn’t a bad release format at all. Once a CDR gets faulty that’s it, it’s knackered. Whereas a cassette can be fixed normally no matter how bad it gets, and they look far cooler than a crappy looking CDR.
Anyway all that is completely besides the point, let’s talk about ‘The Death of Actiacus’. To me Autarch represent that new wave of bands who have completely reinvented hardcore. Bands like Fall of Efrafa, Vestiges and Downfall of Gaia who play eerily dark, emotive heavy music but at times add bleak spacey atmospheric soundscapes. Yet with each one of those aforementioned bands being equally unique.
The opening track “A Message” has a gradual chugging build up with a great eerie lead throughout, which then breaks into heavy fast downstroke riffs with real impassioned vocal screams. Then ends with that great spacey sound I mentioned earlier, real chilling echoey uneasiness. At times these ambient parts could be a movie soundtrack that Clint Mansell would be proud of. It is accompanied lyrically by a real legendary saga type of narrative. “Come to the altar of the sun. Lay your hands on the chest of the mighty. Your mind will deceive you, your body is a puppet for the autarch”.
The songs run really well into each other through nice guitar picking parts. With that distinct twisted eerie lead accompanied by three vocalists each different but gruff, with a real sense of urgency which is the bands unmistakable sound.
Lyrically the band sing about existential catastrophe, ecological collapse and morality all in a very poetic way. It is mastered by Brad (From Ashes Rise) at Audiosiege who has mastered some of the best releases in the last few years. Pro-duplicated cassette with lyric sheet, vinyl sticker and screen printed J-card for $5 from http://headfirstrecords.limitedrun.com Take a listen for yourself on their bandcamp page.