Blackthorn – “Codex Archaos” (2011)


Label : MSR Productions

Review by Tony Cannella & Vard Aman

On their 2rd album “Codex Archaos”, the Russian all female Black Metal band Blackthorn brings forth plenty of brutality and aggressive and weaves it nicely with orchestral musical passages. That is what we have come to expect from Blackthorn and “Codex Archaos” is a further progression for this talented band. The orchestral intro “Divination in Blood” gets things off to a theatrical start and segues into the antagonistic “Vehemence Came as Anodyne”. This is a powerful way to begin things. Blackthorn is known for their 3 different vocal styles that they display. The main vocalist is the diverse Aina who offers soprano and screaming vocal styles, the guitarist Elvira also contributes growling vocals. Blackthorn does a great job in presenting different styles of their musical pallet. Songs like “Nemesis Incarnation”, “Gorgon the Ascendant”, “Posthumous Passion Ephemra” and “Bestial Satan of Grotesque Beauty” (try saying those titles ten times fast) are all highlights on an album that hits you hard and fast. The closing outro “The Fading Ceremony” concludes “Codex Archaos” in an equally theatrical way, thus ending things the way it began. With “Codex Archaos”, Blackthorn continues to move forward in a very powerful direction.

Rating – 84/100

After the potential of Blackthorn was revealed on their excellent twin debut albums of “Gossamer Witchcraft” and “Araneum” (the Russian version of “Gossamer Witchcraft”) and the expectation of their follow up, “Codex Archaos” was for me, and no doubt many others, one of the most anticipated releases of 2011. Blackthorn, for those who do not yet know, are an all-female Dramatic Metal (think Symphonic meets Symphonic Black meets Extreme Gothic… something like that) band from Moscow, Russia. Now, the idealist in me doesn’t really like the phrase “all-female metal band”, simply because the tag is thrown about as a novelty first and foremost – and I don’t think it should be any more a novelty than, say, Dimmu Borgir being an all-male metal band is a novelty, which in the real world it isn’t. But that’s just the way it is… for now. And I’m an idealist. Among the central themes of Blackthorn’s music are witchcraft, the occult and all things dark and demonic; so, for the purposes of this review I shall refer to them henceforth as succubi – and such imagery would really be quite fitting for this band. The title track of “Gossamer Witchcraft”, released in 2009, Blackthorn left us with the words: “From the forest’s heart, away from the succub’s feast Dew on this gossamer is only dew”. After that the forest’s heart was once more quiet and safe for the rest of us mere mortals to wander. For two years the dew on the gossamer really was only dew. But the forest only seemed quiet, for beyond the realm of us mere mortals the succubi continued to stir unseen, all the while sharpening their dark crafts in preparation for their next emergence into the world. For two years they prepared. For two years all seemed quiet and then: “Suddenly, one sultry night, the moon burst into fragments. Broken by unrelenting sharp-clawed hand from nowhere… Afterwards the swollen stars eroded. Making red thick streams flow down from the welkin”. Even amongst those who were expecting it, few could have fully anticipated the new power that the re-awakened succubi would possess, and few could have anticipated their new nature. It came with the realization that the succubi we had witnessed two years ago that had so bedazzled us with “Gossamer Witchcraft” had really still been young; still maturing; still learning their craft. The forest’s heart belonged to the succubi again, and now it had become a very dangerous place indeed for mortals unfamiliar with the shadows and what they hide. “They woke up in their own beds – women, men, old and young… Without tongues and without eyes, spurred by one desire…” There were a few new faces among the succubi, in fact, only Aina and Elvira remain from the line up on “Gossamer Witchcraft”. Greta (bass), Varaska (drums) and Less (violin) have all joined since and they have all brought with them something new to the Blackthorn sound. Varaska’s drumming is, well, simply demonic! To Aina’s repertoire of highly accomplished dramatic soprano vocals and almost seductive spoken passages, she had now added a cold, harsh snarl-like screech. Elvira is responsible for the low growls and snarls (as well as the keyboards, and those powerful and intricate guitars). On “Codex Archaos”, Blackthorn also made use of the services of Moscow’s Silver Voice choir. The production, the songwriting, the lyrics, the overall performance, the attention to detail, and the packaging and artwork are all superb. Actually, it might have been easier just to say that everything about this album and this band is superb. There are no weak songs on this album at all. Each song is different, and each song is a masterpiece on its own (but if I were forced at claw-point to select my favourites, I’d choose “Nemesis Incarnation”, “Gorgon the Ascendant”, “Emptysis Kiss”, “Arria Marcella”, “Posthumous Passion Ephemera”, “Dismalediction and the Remedy” and “Hexshadow Turned to Flesh” – which is, well, most of them). If you like your music dark, dramatic, extreme, haunting, frightening and brutal, yet at the same time sensuous and alluring, then buy this album! If you like the sounds of heavy (and intricate) guitars, powerful bass and brutal drumming, interlaced with violins, choirs and orchestral arrangements, then buy this album! If you like an array of beautiful soprano vocals, sometimes warm, sometimes cold, sometimes seductive, sometimes sinister, interrupted by the kinds of hisses and screeches and snarls and growls that will get the all hairs on the back of your neck and on your arms standing straight up, then buy this album! If you like all these things, or even some of these things, in one complete package, then buy this album! If you only buy one album this entire year, buy this album! That is my advice – you can thank me later. And I suspect you will want to. “He would applaud if he had the hands. And he would waltz if he had the limbs. But he only grins “You are as unwholesome as me”  .The forest’s heart is quiet again; but not because the succubi have once more retreated into the shadows beyond the gaze of mere mortals, no, but because they have now left the forest and gone out into the world at large… “Out of the grim nothingness, out of the dismal woods and noxious mists Into an assemblage of warmth, into your house, your room, your wrists” “Those who run to the dawn will fall into the night’s embrace No one will leave this putrid pageant” …and the world, according to my ears, will be a lot better for it!

Rating – 98/100



  1. Divination in Blood
  2. Vehemence Came As Anodyne
  3. Nemesis Incarnation
  4. Gorgon the Ascendant
  5. Emptysis Kiss
  6. Arria Marcella
  7. Posthumous Passion Ephemra
  8. Dismalediction and the Remedy
  9. Silver Key
  10. Hexshadow Turned to Flesh
  11. Bestial Satan of Grotesque Beauty
  12. The Fading Ceremony


Line Up

  • Aina – Soprano & Scream Vocals
  • Elvira – Guitars, Keyboards & Growl
  • Greta – Bass
  • Less – Violin
  • Varaska – Drums



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