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By Justin C. You’d be forgiven if, like me, you tended to get a little lost in the Icelandic black metal scene. The number of bands and seemingly relentless release schedules might make it hard to find a new favorite band to
By Justin C.


You’d be forgiven if, like me, you tended to get a little lost in the Icelandic black metal scene. The number of bands and seemingly relentless release schedules might make it hard to find a new favorite band to hang your hat on. Add in unique Icelandic characters--like “þ”, or as I call it, “p with a horn”--and it can be hard for dumb Americans like myself to even communicate about the bands effectively.

I think Misþyrming’s newest, Algleymi, might add some clarity to my life, though. I was so blown away by the promo that I’m writing about it after just two listens, which is a pretty big departure from my usual “10 or more listens with notes” anal retentive approach. Simply put, this album rips and roars in all the right ways. I’ve listened to--and even enjoyed--a fair amount of obscure-leaning black metal, but Algleymi is furious and, at times, downright catchy.

The album starts off with a far-off-sounding yelp before launching into frenetic, no-frills black metal. “No frills” in this case doesn’t mean simplistic or boring, though. The tremolo riff that starts the opening track might hew pretty close to the second wave we know and love, but throughout the albums, the riffs are always melodic, but sometimes majestic, triumphant, chiming, or mysterious in tone. The vocals are a bit lower in register than what’s become typical--think of a gravely rasp a little lower than what Gaahl typically uses--but they scratch an itch I didn’t even know I had. They tend to sound fervent, somewhere between a stern proclamation and a growl, but no less ferocious.

Sometimes I get a little nervous when I see a black metal album with eight or more tracks all around the seven- to eight-minute mark, because that often signals an album that sounds a lot longer than it actually is. Misþyrming avoids this trap by virtue of pure fury, and adding the occasional interlude, like “Hælið”, that stand on their own musically, giving a break into the tension without letting the listener mentally wander off.

If you were inclined to let this one slip by as just another Icelandic release destined to get lost somewhere in the North Atlantic of your record collection, you need to fight off that urge. This is an album worth spreading the news about, even if typing the song names involve a lot of copying and pasting.

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By Craig Hayes. It takes a bold (or entirely reckless) band to deliberately destroy all the signifiers and motifs that define the music we hold dear. But that’s exactly what German guitarist Caspar Brötzmann and his avant-rock power-trio Massaker set out to do in the late 1980s.
By Craig Hayes.


It takes a bold (or entirely reckless) band to deliberately destroy all the signifiers and motifs that define the music we hold dear. But that’s exactly what German guitarist Caspar Brötzmann and his avant-rock power-trio Massaker set out to do in the late 1980s. The band butchered all those characteristics that help us identify and connect with the music we love, and then they endeavored to fashion something compelling out of the wreckage. Bold, for sure. Fucking reckless, indeed. Successful, unquestionably.

Many other noisy alt-rock innovators from the 1980s – see groups like Swans, Big Black, or Sonic Youth – found more international fame than Caspar Brötzmann Massaker ever did. However, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker, who were as much audio terrorists as they were music makers, are about to enjoy wider exposure thanks to deafening music merchants Southern Lord. The label is remastering and reissuing Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s first five albums, beginning with the band’s harsh and visceral 1988 debut, The Tribe, closely followed by their heavier sophomore album, 1989's Black Axis.

Caspar Brötzmann grew up in the shadow of his father, Peter, a free jazz saxophonist of some note. The younger Brötzmann was well aware of avant-garde music, growing up, but the elder Brötzmann definitely wasn’t a fan of the wild bohemian hard rockers who appealed to his son. The younger Brötzmann was left to his own creative devices, and the uncompromising music he made corrodes the foundations of rock while still paying tribute to Brötzmann’s guitar heroes, like Jimi Hendrix and Japanese underground legend Keiji Haino.

Brötzmann rejected formal training and took a ‘fuck virtuosity’ approach to his songwriting. Dissonant chords and mountains of feedback were seen as legitimate means of expression – as were warped tunings and teeth-rattling distortion. Brötzmann explored the palpable potential of volume + intensity + volume + (you get the picture), and Caspar Brötzmann Massaker were notably confrontational in their heyday.

Thirty years down the line, the band's debut, The Tribe, still sounds utterly unique and equally enthralling. Untamed tracks like “Blechton” and “Massaker” see fierce metallic riffs batter shards of hybrid art-rock and psych-rock, exposing the dark heart of The Tribe in the process, which often oozes menace. Elsewhere, the “Time” and “The Call” are fed into a no wave meat grinder – producing unorthodox albeit hard-edged songs, constructed out of twisted and tarnished scaffolding.

It’s all mind-bending magic, of course, and Brötzmann’s murmured vocals and oblique lyrics (which are scattered throughout The Tribe) only add to the unnerving and unhinged atmosphere. Brötzmann and his bandmates corral the chaos as best they can on The Tribe and they somehow manage to make music that’s as bleak as a row of rusting and collapsed factories and yet is overflowing with sizzling six-string insanity. Pounding drums and propulsive bass add to the mayhem, and The Tribe’s remastering captures Caspar Brötzmann Massaker's volcanic strengths in all their amp-melting glory.


The band’s second album, 1989’s Black Axis, features more impressively tight and expressively uninhibited interplay. (It also showcases the continued development of Brötzmann’s idiosyncratic guitar technique.) Like The Tribe, Black Axis was recorded at legendary jazz studio FMP in Berlin, but Brötzmann was so tall he could "barely stand up straight" in the rehearsal room. It might be wishful imaginings on my part, but you can almost hear that uncomfortable positioning boil over as bitter and crooked riffs are hurled at the listener on Black Axis.

There’s a heavier percussive punch to the album, mixed with a raw sense of physicality and starker industrial rhythms. The mesmeric mechanics of “The Hunter” calls to mind a critically adored industrial band like The Young Gods. And the mantric tempo on much of Black Axis fuels its hypnotic pulse, especially in the screeching/droning/transcendent depths of the album’s 15-minute title track.

The echo of Hendrix’s wildest adventures still resounds on Black Axis; see the scorching guitar on tracks like “Mute” and “Tempelhof”. There are plenty of anarchic noise eruptions throughout, and flashes of jazz and funk arrive, only to be wrenched inside out. Squalls of guitar eradicate easy handholds and, to be honest, much of Black Axis feels like Caspar Brötzmann Massaker are purposefully fucking with us as much as with themselves, which suits the band’s modus operandi to T.

Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s desire to explore the darkest reaches of minimalism and maximalism sees them navigating post-punk and experimental gateways, as well as tearing open all manner of strange and pummeling musical portals. In the end, all that volatility means Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s music is near impossible to classify – let alone describe.

Ultimately, it's that combination of Caspar Brötzmann Massaker’s innovative temperament and unrestrained methodology that lies at the heart of their appeal. Most bands are all too easily cataloged and duly marketed to the masses, but decades after their birth, Caspar Brötzmann Massaker still sound like eccentric outliers. It’s not even that alternative music hasn’t 'caught up' with Caspar Brötzmann Massaker, it’s simply that the band were genuine subversives making abrasive and aberrant art.

Caspar Brötzmann Massaker are constantly in flux on The Tribe and Black Axis – endlessly exploring the possibilities of their anti-music/music while simultaneously destroying and remaking their songs at the exact same time. Most importantly of all, by disregarding the rules of rock, and ignoring arbitrary genre boundaries, The Tribe and Black Axis remain daring, defiant and wholly challenging albums to this day.

NOTE: After reissuing Caspar Brötzmann Massaker's first five albums, Southern Lord are planning to release a collector’s boxed set featuring extensive liner notes and artwork by Brötzmann, including a hand-numbered silkscreened print signed by the artist. Details of that venture are forthcoming.

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By Calen Henry. Dreadnought’s fourth elemental themed album, Emergence, carries on the band’s signature sound while tightening it up. Pulling back from the dizzying density of A Wake in Sacred Waves, it's the band's most direct album but it doesn't sacrifice any of their intensity.
By Calen Henry.

Artwork by Mark Facey

Dreadnought’s fourth elemental themed album, Emergence, carries on the band’s signature sound while tightening it up. Pulling back from the dizzying density of A Wake in Sacred Waves, it's their most direct album but it doesn't sacrifice any of their intensity.

Emergence is still, at its core, piano-heavy blackened progressive rock. The driving tremolo riffs and shrieked vocals are still prominent, as are Kelly Schilling and Laura Vieira’s lovely piano-accompanied clean vocals and Jordan Clancy's intricate drumming. Flute, saxophone, and keys all make appearances, as with earlier releases, but Dreadnought sound more focused than ever before.

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By Calen Henry. Nate Garrett’s solo doom-project-turned-touring-band, Spirit Adrift, returns with their third album, Divided by Darkness, and it’s a stunner. Curse of Conception was one of my favourite albums of 2017 and Divided by Darkness makes it seem like
By Calen Henry.

Artwork by Joe Petagno

Nate Garrett’s solo doom-project-turned-touring-band, Spirit Adrift, returns with their third album, Divided by Darkness, and it’s a stunner. Curse of Conception was one of my favourite albums of 2017 and Divided by Darkness makes it seem like a test-run.

It transcends prior efforts and genres altogether into simply "heavy metal", but not in the modern traditional metal sense. Rather, it embodies heavy metal’s history to make something new. There’s the plodding doom of the first album, and the faster death-adjacent traditional metal from the second, but it's mixed with a newly front-and-centre 80’s sound; laced with synths and organ (even the Mellotron's signature 3 Violins patch), the guitar tone hearkens back with faintly reverbed cleans and squealing leads It's even got mid-solo key changes and a Vibraslap. The pieces all fit together wonderfully, playing not as a rehash but a modern ode to classic metal.

On top of that the riffs, solos, and hooks slay. Songs are almost “anti-progressive” and mostly feature a verse/chorus structure with a bridge and a solo. Each part is impeccably composed and performed making the straightforward structure really work. All the instruments lock in and drive everything forward, giving way to searing leads, but Nate’s vocals really seal the deal. His slightly nasally and a bit raspy vocals have always had that timeless 80's metal quality, but this time they’re huge, even more varied and the instruments have gone back to the 80's with them. The big choruses are absolutely belted out, and the quiet parts are cleaner and fuller. There’s not a line out of place on the album.

My one minor quibble is that the mastering is decidedly modern and brickwalled, though well produced. It only slightly hampers the result, but a huge metal record like this, so indebted to the 80’s, deserves a wide open 80's master. That being said, the usual first casualty of a loud master, the bass, is loud and clear and things sound good all around.

Divided by Darkness it phenomenal. It's the best album the Spirit Adrift have released and the best metal album I've heard this year. Play it loud.

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By Ulla Roschat. I've been a fan of the four piece Slovenian Sludge Doom band Leechfeast since they started oozing their crusty filthy noise and let it drip into my ears and settle in my brain and soul to never completely leave. That was when they released their first full length album Hideous Illusion in 2012.
By Ulla Roschat.


I've been a fan of the four piece Slovenian Sludge Doom band Leechfeast since they started oozing their crusty filthy noise and let it drip into my ears and settle in my brain and soul to never completely leave. That was when they released their first full length album Hideous Illusion in 2012. Quite some time (and some split releases) lies between their first album and Neon Crosses. And quite some time lies between its release in March 2018 (Dry Cough Records/Rope or Guillotine) and this review.

So this is a kind of "late-to-the-party" review, although I wanted to write something immediately after the first time I heard this mind blowing album. It's an album of the category: "listen to it - words can't describe its magic". This is the reason it took me so long to eventually write this anyway, just hoping my words will make you push the play button, so the magic may unleash upon you..., and the magic starts as soon as you do so.

A creepy voice sample of some sermon /church service and slightly dissonant church bells set the mood - unhealthy, somewhat hysterical, moldy and portentous - the mood to embrace the heavy slow glooey riff that thunders down without warning to push you into a river of viscous dirt and filth, torrential and painfully slow at the same time and it carries you into soundscapes and atmospheres of despair, pain, hopelessness and anger.
Right from the start the opening track "Sacrosanct" confirms the thematic direction the album title suggests the album is going to take.

Neon Crosses is all about the wounds and pain that are caused by neglected promises of religious salvation dragged into the unrelenting, cold urban neon lights, that enhance all the suffering by creating distorted and warped reflections through the dripping filth of cruelty and indifference. The vocals, be they throaty, bellowing, gnarling, clean or whatever, are an absolute bliss of emotional impact, especially in the following track "Halogen" where dynamic and intensity grow into a heavy ritualistic Doom with melancholic melodies and ambience.

There's a soothing comfort in this melancholy, but that soon gets spoiled by dissonant distortion and an disturbingly abrupt ending that opens an abyss and you inevitably fall into the pitch black "Tar". This song is sonic tar indeed. You can almost feel the greasy, clinging smear on your skin, smell its pungent odor that takes your breath. This is so heavy, slow, gloomy and gluey and still the intensity here grows with every minute the song progresses until the atmosphere gets unbearably depressing.

All this sounds like the dark chants of a church service or funeral march at times, and  again a wailing melancholy seems to offer relief and salvation, but instead it’s faith itself getting carried to its grave. The repetitive ritual, the monolithic riffs, hard hitting drums and bass lines from hell are of a tightness that is as hypnotic as it is overwhelming and only drag you deeper into the darkness like a slow but inexorable vortex of grime and morass.

On "Razor Nest" more and more mechanical, industrial noises, eerie sound samples and radio messages infuse the already uncanny, somber ambience with post apocalyptic images and a sense of insanity and in the end of the song and the album the only repetitive sound left is the hollow stomping of some machine, stripped of all religious meaning.

If you are into this kind of heavy, doomy, gloomy Sludge, you should give Neon Crosses definitely a try. It is a demanding listen, not only because it's relentlessly heavy and slow, but even more so because it's pure overwhelming emotion oozing from your speakers through your ears into your heart.

And if you get the chance to attend a live show of these guys, don't miss it, it's an experience.

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By Calen Henry. Tanagra are an unsung hero within the recent US power / traditional metal revival. In 2015, with little fanfare, they released a great debut, None of This is Real, a scrappy mix of traditional and power metal anchored by Tom Socia’s vocals
By Calen Henry.

Artwork by Gary Tonge

Tanagra are an unsung hero within the recent US power / traditional metal revival. In 2015, with little fanfare, they released a great debut, None of This is Real, a scrappy mix of traditional and power metal anchored by Tom Socia’s vocals. Closer to traditional metal that power metal, Socia’s vocals are mostly tenor, with a touch of grit giving the band a unique sound in a space rife with squeaky clean cleans and falsetto.

Tanagra, in contrast to much power metal, maintain a lower intensity than typical of the genre. Clearly intentional, and by no means a criticism, Tanagra keep things at a controlled burn. Songs never escalate to a falsetto scream or a huge rhythmic breakdown. For Meridiem, though, the band have polished their sound and really dug into their epic side. It’s bursting with complex arrangements, epic vocals, sweep picking and tapping guitar leads, orchestral embellishments, and even features some forays into odd time signatures like on None of This is Real. The band have upped the ante considerably from their debut, but kept their hallmarks, especially the tenor vocals, which now occasionally dip into baritone. Making no bones about all this the album opens with the over 11 minute title track, starting with the ominous ticking of a grandfather clock before launching into Tanagra’s progressive power metal assault.

It’s immediately evident that extreme care and creativity has been given to the composition and performances and digging into the albums lyrics shows the same. Though not ostensibly a concept album, Meridiem’s songs center around a cohesive fantasy world and tell epic stories of struggle and strife within it. It’s unclear if the band has created the world or simply written in an unnamed existing fantasy world, but either way it adds depth to the music for those willing to dig deep and the band clearly want that, having posted lyrics with all the songs on Bandcamp.

For all the boxes Meridiem ticks, though, it’s let down a bit by it’s production. For all the dynamic instrumentation and vocals, the net result sounds a bit flat. It could be that it’s more compressed (DR 5 to None of This is Real’s DR 8), but Tanagra’s extremely controlled music is robbed of impact due to the production. Some will likely find it more noticeable than others, but it can make the album a bit harder to engage with that it would have been with a more dynamic mix.

Meridiem is very much worth engaging with. Tanagra fill a niche that not many modern bands do, and they do it very well.

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By Justin C. I stumbled across Helms Alee just one album ago, with 2016’s Stillicide, so I can’t pretend to be intimate with their entire career arc. I’ve seen them described as sludge, psychedelia, and grunge, but I think all of those are off the mark
By Justin C.


I stumbled across Helms Alee just one album ago, with 2016’s Stillicide, so I can’t pretend to be intimate with their entire career arc. I’ve seen them described as sludge, psychedelia, and grunge, but I think all of those are off the mark, especially when talking about their new album, Noctiluca.

I’ve been listening to the promo for this album compulsively. Helms Alee might be metal adjacent at this point, but they manage to mix heavy with charm in a way that have made a recent car accident and injury on top of moving to a new house somewhat bearable. Songs like “Be Rad Tomorrow” have a propulsive, infectious energy. The riff and rhythm are relatively simple, but they’re a great example of doing a lot with a little. Add the combination of both lilting and driving vocals on top in the chorus, and you’ll want to drive down a sun-baked road 100 mph while listening to it.

This particular track also shows off one of the band’s greatest strengths: all three members make strong vocal contributions. Ben Verellen primarily supplies a style I like to call “hollering” next to Dana James’s and Hozoji Matheson-Margullis’s cleans, be they ethereal or driving. The combinations and harmonies brought all kinds of bands to mind, including Kylesa and The Breeders, but that’s more of a “for fans of…” list than anything else.

Helms Alee also manage that rarified achievement of mixing different levels of heavy, light, and trippy while always sounding like the same band. “Play Dead” wanders into early-Baroness territory of heavy rock/metal with interludes of bewitching harmonies, but “Lay Waste, Child” wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of Apocalypse Now. There’s nothing jarring about the transitions, though. This might not be the kind of bruising music that we typically cover here, but Helms Alee have made a cohesive, compelling album out of disparate sounds, and in doing so, they make a compelling argument against anyone who says that rock is dead.

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By Craig Hayes. The New Zealand metal scene isn’t short of strong vocalists, but the voice of Bridge Burner singer Ben Read stands out as one of most powerful and versatile. Read’s time fronting bands like In Dread Response, The Mark of Man, and Ulcerate has served him well
By Craig Hayes.


The New Zealand metal scene isn’t short of strong vocalists, but the voice of Bridge Burner singer Ben Read stands out as one of most powerful and versatile. Read’s time fronting bands like In Dread Response, The Mark of Man, and Ulcerate has served him well in developing a vocal style that mines myriad layers of both nuance and savagery from throat-shredding shrieks, snarls, howls, and growls. Read’s recordings with Auckland-based sonic annihilators Bridge Burner feature some of his best work yet, and that’s more than apparent on the band’s latest tracks, “Chlorine Eyes” and “Abyssal”.

Bridge Burner’s new songs are barbaric bait primed to lure fans along to upcoming shows where they're opening for Cult Leader and Primitive Man on their respective NZ tours. That’s an apt pair of bands for Bridge Burner to be supporting too. Like Primitive Man, Bridge Burner’s music explores existential and corporeal agonies and Bridge Burner also make bleak and bruising aesthetic choices that hammer their crushing missives home. Like Cult Leader, Bridge Burner’s music is an intoxicating mix of steel-tipped punk and metal. In Bridge Burner’s case, they smash grindcore, crust punk, and sludge, black, and death metal together with visceral ferocity.

Essenitally, that means “Chlorine Eyes” and “Abyssal” feature brutal blasts of hybridized metal. Breakneck riffs, bass, and percussion batter the mind and body as Bridge Burner’s chaotic maelstroms take hold, and “Chlorine Eyes” features additional vocals from Callum Gay (Spook the Horses, Stress), who puts his gullet-shredding holler to raucous use too. Bridge Burner work a marginally slower and doomier angle on “Abyssal" but it's still a brawling cacophony overall.

“Abyssal” and “Chlorine Eyes” both pummel and pulverize, which is no surprise given Bridge Burner's merciless methodology, but the tracks' ultimate strengths lie in the deep catharsis they foster via punishing noise and incandescent rage. I’ve said it before, but Bridge Burner’s volatile fusion of intensity and negativity carves out a clear pathway to liberation. Call it nihilistic transcendence, or purification through misery and darkness, there’s no question that all the caustic chaos on “Abyssal” and “Chlorine Eyes” will help exorcize your endless inner-demons.

If that sounds good, make sure to seek out Bridge Burner’s excellent debut full-length, Null Apostle, which was released last year (and is also available on Bandcamp). Null Apostle is also overflowing with torment, wrath, and unshackled fury. Perfect for the morbid masochist in all of us.

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By Karen A. Mann. More than three years after electrifying the metal community with Journey Blind, an expertly crafted blend of doom, traditional metal and classic rock, Boston’s somewhat mysterious Magic Circle, have returned with Departed Souls.
By Karen A. Mann


More than three years after electrifying the metal community with Journey Blind, an expertly crafted blend of doom, traditional metal and classic rock, Boston’s somewhat mysterious Magic Circle, have returned with Departed Souls. They haven’t really lost the mystery. Due to obligations with several other bands (Innumerable Forms, Sumerlands, Devil’s Dare, Stone Dagger, Lifeless Dark, Missionary Work, Pagan Altar), they rarely play live, and they still eschew social media. But on this latest album, the band looks further beyond its doomy foundations into the psychedelic world of prog to give us a powerfully mournful ode to those who have departed -- either by leaving this life or by leaving our lives.

However, Magic Circle is pretty blunt with their subject matter and artwork, which features a verdant, overgrown cemetery shown in the golden light of sunset. This is an album about death and endings, but the result is more bittersweet than maudlin, hopeful rather than despairing. A key reason for this is singer Brendan Radigan’s powerful voice, which could take the most mundane material and elevate it to the ethereal. There’s a good reason why he is often compared to the likes of Ronnie James Dio and Ian Gillan. His lyrics are poetic and kaleidoscopic, frequently invoking the seasons and the forces of nature as a sort of general lament on the plight of humanity.

The album opens with its title song, a Trouble-like medium-tempo head-bobber in which Radigan uses the wheel of the seasons to mourn a passing life.

Another harvest of the year
Echoing through time
Shaping the waves of the biosphere
With the cold wind’s sigh.

But Radigan is hardly the band’s only star. Guitarists Chris Corry and Renato Montenegro, trade evocative melodies, searing dual leads and chugging rhythms, often within the same song. It’s not unusual for them to be plodding on with a Sabbath-tinged riff, only to stop and indulge their inner Iron Maiden.

Magic Circle is a band that you can count on to mix things up. Several songs, including “Departed Souls” and “Valley of the Lepers,” follow this recipe. The album begins to unfold in an unexpected, but welcome way on the fourth song, “A Day Will Dawn Without Nightmares.” After a spacey intro, the song floats into an exotic, colorful melody with tablas and a retro-organ riff. Radigan croons about “haunting shadows,” a “glowing eventide” and “silhouetted memories.” It’s a very fitting divider for the album, which then becomes more progressive and a little less doomy, evoking Deep Purple more than Black Sabbath.

The band gives the listener a bit of a rest on “Bird City Blues,” a lush instrumental that clocks in at barely over a minute long, and includes the sound of rolling thunder in the distance. After that, the last song, “Hypnotized,” builds slowly, with Radigan coming in at top volume and power, and leading the listener on a roller coaster ride of emotions. As the riffs crescendo below him, Radigan lets loose:

Never to have or to want.
The will crumbles all.
Mortar and brick battlements
Finally fall.
Hypnotized.
And I hold back the hands of time.

For an album about death, Departed Souls leaves the listener feeling peaceful and uplifted.

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By Calen Henry. Though death metal is huge right now, the dirty Entombed sound and progressive Death worship prevail. Melodic death metal is somewhat of a rarity. Bands like Be’lakor and Parius carry the torch, but melodeath is one of few death metal variants
By Calen Henry.

Artwork by Niklas Sundin/Cabin Fever Media.

Though death metal is huge right now, the dirty Entombed sound and progressive Death worship prevail. Melodic death metal is somewhat of a rarity. Bands like Be’lakor and Parius carry the torch, but melodeath is one of few death metal variants not experiencing a renaissance. On their sophomore album, Prokopton, Aephanemer give it their all to change that.

In Aephanemer the key melodeath parts are extremely strong. They combine gruff rhythmic vocals with melodic palm muted and tremolo riffs underscoring searing dual guitar leads. The dual guitars propel the songs forward, rarely relying on simple chugging instead adding all sorts of melodic flourishes. Vocalist Marion Bascoul’s delivery as well as the phrase construction is very Johan Hegg. Phrases line up with guitar riffs and the staccato delivery juxtaposes nicely with the lyrical guitar work, sometimes even taking on a folk influenced lilt.

Aephanemer ramp things up by adding orchestral elements to the melodeath formula. It's effectively symphonic melodic death metal and it’s glorious. It’s not just some keyboard accents either. The metal and string sections are given almost equal footing in songs and often intertwine. It won’t convert those of the mind that melodeath is somehow inferior to other metal, but for those already fans it’s phenomenal.

Prokopton sounds excellent despite the compressed master (DR 6). Unsurprising given it was mixed by Dan Swano. It’s unfortunate, though, that hiring a string orchestra is (presumably) pricey, because the compositions are excellent, but not quite done justice by the orchestra keyboard patches the band has had to resort to. The album begs for a full orchestra to really do the songs justice. That’s a minor quibble and really speaks to the quality of the songs contained in Prokopton.

Thy lyrical content lives up to the epic and upbeat music. Prokopton is a concept from stoicism and roughly means, “one who is progressing”. Songs follow this idea; either existential pondering on one’s place in life legacy, or epic stories of characters' experience to find their path. Marion’s delivery drives the songs along and the lyrics are really worth reading.

Aephanemer have struck gold with Prokopton.. It's unapologetic in it's embrace of all things epic and melodic. For anyone to whom that sounds like a pro, rather than a con, you're in for a treat.

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