Album Review: Ὁπλίτης – “Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η” (Progressive Black Metal/Mathcore/Death Metal)

Written by Westin

> ὉπλίτηςΨ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η
> Progressive black metal/mathcore/death metal
> China
> Released January 1
> Independent/self-release

This is the brand new project from the musician behind Vitriolic Sage and, like that band, Ὁπλίτης is a one-man black metal band based in China. Ὁπλίτης is the Greek work for “hoplites,” which is probably the stereotypical image of a Greek soldier you imagine in your head when you think about topics like The Trojan War or The Odyssey, armed with spear and shield, decked out in bronze armor.

Yet what adorns the cover is not a painting of one of those legendary historical warriors, and in place of that is a woman in a fine gown, armband and jewelry adorning her, her hand proudly gripping a staff. My familiarity with Greek historical setting and mythos is limited so my guess is that this figure is an oracle of some kind, those who could speak to the gods to deliver divine messages. To me this is an interesting and intentional choice—this is not a piece of art that delivers harsh and violent fantasies of ancient conquest or martial supremacy, this is not the symbolism of antagonistic and suspect war metal. I emphasize the art to draw attention to the very unusual focused theme of Ὁπλίτης—a Chinese black metal project built around the Greek mythos and historical fantasy. My attempts to translate the album, Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η, which roughly means “falsehood” or “liar”, were limited in success so I apologize for mostly working off what little I can get from Google.

Opener “Δημήτηρ” blasts off on mathcore-style aggressive and angular riffing, while the follow up “Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ό​μ​α​ν​τ​ι​ς” contains a bit more hardcore groove, both of which are topped off by a sense of evil in the blackened shrieks from mastermind J.L. that pierce through the countless blast beats and tempo changes. The drumming is genuinely impressive on this album, as usually with these one-man projects the drums tend to be less virtuosic in composition to allow more focus on the other instruments. But J.L. goes all out and delivers us some engaging drum fills between the bass notes.

Track four “Ὁ τ​ῶ​ν δ​α​κ​ρ​ύ​ω​ν ψ​ε​ῦ​δ​ο​ς” is the longest on the album, clocking in at eight-and-a-half minutes, which contrasts the intense and brief opening trio of blackened mathcore. The length is intentional, as the song is slower and more rhythmic, crafting a sense of atmosphere and death metal-y sludge. Groove is a powerful force of momentum here, maintaining a constant force and solid core around which everything else is balanced. Vocals are undulating whispers, like demons in the dark, but there are still shrieks of torment when the song kicks into high gear at the halfway point and never ceases an absolute barrage of sonic fury.

The back half of Ψ​ε​υ​δ​ο​μ​έ​ν​η is where it gets more progressive, taking those mathcore time changes and polyrhythms, bringing them to the black metal side of the album alongside structural track shifts that make songs feel more dynamic and exploratory, while retaining the intensity and instrumental skill. “Μάρτυς”, the seventh song, is extremely atonal and abrasive, with high speed tremolo that scratches at your ear drums before dropping into a temporary lull that feels tense with the knowledge of incoming hardcore beatdowns.

There is a lot going on, and it could easily slip into a disastrous mess of mangled ideas and ill-practiced fusion, but J.L. clearly knows what he’s doing and has managed to find a potent and unusual angle to take black metal—I’m sure it’s not entirely new, as more apt delvers of the black metal depths could probably tell you, but it’s extremely fresh to me. I’ve never heard a band quite like Ὁπλίτης, and I hope to hear more.


Ὁπλίτης is a fascinating new project that takes black metal in a direction I think a lot of people won’t have heard before. There is an intensely furious speed to these songs, but also an appreciation for atmosphere and song craft that pushes boundaries. This album is a fantastic piece to start off the new year and makes a mark that to me says there’s still plenty of life in the underground, where it always has been.