Minnesotans House of Atreus are carving a nice little niche for themselves in the sometimes too-samey world of melodic death metal. Their new album, From the Madness of Ixion, sees them further developing their style, hopefully paving the way for them to move on to bigger things in the future, should they so desire.

I picked this album up for review because I was already keen on the band’s sound; they develop the tuneful impulse of the NWoBHM, adding a blackened edge along the way to create an intense, yet ‘sing-song’ brand of music that’s almost unlike anything else you’ll come across on your metal travels.

I say almost – people who know far more about this subject than I will tell you the band borrow an awful lot from fellow Yanks Arghoslent – but in reality sounding only like one or two other bands in this genre is a feat in itself. Anyways, to the music… Tracks like the superb Oath of The Horatii are pretty revelatory, bouncing along with instantly hummable riffage – it’s hard to overstate just how melodic a lot of the riffs are on this record – delivered in an almost street punk style that keeps anything from becoming too precious or over complicated.

Guitarists Anhedonius Wrath and Narcissus Interitus are an explosive partnership, especially when meshing together to create a wall of sound that is dense but sludgy, precise yet not clinical. Occasionally the strident twang of Anxietous Nero breaks through the six string barrage, but essentially this album is all about the guitars and the scittering drum assault of Orge Thumos. Cordelia in particular is an orgy of destructive sound, all elements coming together to deliver a knockout blow to the senses. It’s also one of the less melodious tracks on offer, which may be coincidental. Whatever, the band sound at their most dangerous on this track.

The second half of the album isn’t quite as effective as the first, with the exception of the majestic Ad Hominem, though it doesn’t stink by any means; House of Atreus have a style that’s clearly defined and for the most part work admirably within their chosen parameters. If they can perhaps broaden those parameters just a little in the future, then I don’t think I’d be alone in predicting big things for them.

From the Madness of Ixion will be released by Iron Bonehead on October 12th.