Having formed upon the date of the Summer Solstice in 1990, there is effectively one real constant with this band regardless of all the turnover that happens within their ranks. That is, Rich Walker, the guitarist and main songwriter of the band, unflinchingly delivers great metal pretty much every time the band puts music out, no matter how sporadic. It doesn’t matter if you pick any of the other full lengths or even the EPs – both Halcyon and Death’s Crown is Victory would be the highlight of a lot of other band’s careers. Still though, New Dark Age has always been the top of the heap, and for my part one of my favorite doom metal albums in general.
Mythology and metal have never been an odd match, there is a long-storied tradition of musicians from every subgenre exploring the folklore of many cultures – Norse, Egyptian, Greek to name a few. In this respect, Phaëthon is not treading new ground. However, what does make them distinct is their background. While we are accustomed to seeing delineation between traditional and extreme metal, it’s no secret that most death and black metal musicians are deeply reverent of early heavy metal pioneers and their offshoots. Phaëthon fits precisely this mold as two of the main musicians are seasoned veterans of the UK extreme underground.
Looking back, it’s hard to view 1984 as anything other than a banner year for heavy metal. The sheer amount of world-beating releases across a wide range of styles is almost unmatched by any year to follow. What we now call traditional metal provided an onslaught of classics, thrash and power metal both launched themselves headlong into the international fray, Sabbath’s legacy was in fine form via the first releases from Trouble, Saint Vitus and Paul Chain Violet Theatre, and thirty-five years on most black metal still comes up short against the triumvirate of Apocalyptic Raids, Morbid Tales, and Bathory’s self-titled debut. It would also mark the (semi-official) end of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the very movement which would sow the seeds for much of the development that followed. So then, with metal exploding worldwide on an previously-unmatched level, with this article we’re taking a look at what happened in the wake of the NWOBHM.