ALBUM REVIEW: Ghosts of Atlantis – Riddles of the Sycophants


Suffolk symphonic death metal masters Ghosts of Atlantis follow up their 2021 full-length debut with another journey to the faraway lands of myths and legend. A continuation of the events told on, Riddles of the Sycophants (Hammerheart Records) finds the remaining Atlanteans having washed ashore, word soon spreading about their survival and apparent favour from the gods. Creating unrest, these stories cause the seal on Pandora’s Box to be removed, the greed and desire of mankind once again forcing the Ghosts of Atlantis to intervene.


The story re-opens with “March of the Titans”, a cut full of fast, scything riffs backed by subtle orchestrations and vicious roars from vocalist Phil Primmer. Bolstered by some powerful ICS Vortex meets Warrel Dane style clean vocals, “Lands of Snow” finds the band travelling into Cradle of Filth country – not hugely surprising as they happen to be from the same area and guitarist Colin Parks was also in Devilment with COF frontman Dani Filth.


“Empires Burn at Dawn” is a mighty burst of aggression reinforced by subtle orchestrations and choral vocals, the rhythm section of bassist Al Todd and drummer Rob Garner blasting for all their worth before “The Lycaon King” showcases some top drawer riffing from Parks and co-guitarist Dex Jezierski, the latter part of the song underpinned by a striking middle eastern backing melody.



Arguably the best cut on the record “The Alkonost” also happens to find the band at their Cradliest, the song turning to Iron Maiden for a quietly restrained passage towards the end, the vocals turning cartwheels with strident clean tones and fathomless gutturals. Dimmu Borgir meets Ex Deo on “Sacramental” while the thunderous, Gorgon themed “A Maiden’s Scorn” boasts colossal melodies, dramatic orchestration and darkly atmospheric backing vocals.


Penultimate track “Behind the Wall” is another cut with Cradle of Filth written all over it but the slow burning death metal power ballad also finds itself laced with Paradise Lost throughout. The seven minute title track and final chapter of the story brims with bombast, brutality and hooks aplenty, the song ebbing and flowing towards a rip-roaring climax, concluding with a resonant, colourful flourish and another memorable, surging chorus. A perfect closer for a record like this.


Despite the sometimes obvious comparisons to other acts, there’s nothing wrong with using solid ground as a foundation for something different and that is exactly what Ghosts of Atlantis do here, Riddles of the Sycophants managing to sound reassuringly familiar while offering plenty of surprises on its intriguing conceptual odyssey.


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8 / 10