Greece’s Melan Selas was just formed back in 2016 by instrumentalist D.K. and vocalist/lyricist Astraea – Oletir, but they already show not just a very promising level of songwriting and riffcraft, but a true understanding of their influences. Reon (Ῥέον in their native Greek) is a compilation of their debut self-titled EP and a couple new songs, but plays as a cohesive album. It contains a fairly melodic form of Hellenic black metal that should be pretty instantly comfortable to fans of such bands as Rotting Christ and Varathron, but twists it up with several other key sources.
But dig deeper, and you can hear influences that comes from far out of their native Greece. For example, Melan Selas like to get down with a classic Bathory drive à la “A Fine Day to Die” or “Enter the Eternal Fire.” The dark “Aema” offers the traditional 6/8, hi-hat version of that sound, while also adding some drama in the form of female operatic vocals. “Ancient Spirit” also gets to the Bathory sound, but not until after the kind of soft, pretty intro that wouldn’t sound out of place on a later Iron Maiden record (nor would some of the band’s heavier riffs). Elsewhere, “Ethereal Annihilation” goes from a theatrical, string-filled intro to Deströyer 666-esque black thrash, while “Of Winter” delivers a ton of blazing, gorgeous tremolo riffing.
In the hands of a less talented band, this wide breadth of elements might be a sign of a lack of focus or identity, but for Melan Selas, it’s merely a sign that they’re not just comfortable with their influences, but know how to weave them into cohesive songs. However, despite their highs, there understandably remain a couple areas for improvement. Most notably, a few of the songs go on longer than is truly necessary, and the band would do well to work on their sense of dynamics a bit. Closer “Selana,” which grows from a moody, slow into a thundering, blasting finish, might be a great point from which to build. (The medium section might also contain the best riff on an album loaded with great riffs.)
Of course, these are typically the types of capabilities that come with experience, and as stated above, Melan Selas is only just getting started. If the songs — and more importantly the riffs — on Reon are any indication, they should have plenty to offer the still incredibly fruitful Greek black metal scene. And plenty to offer our ears, of course.