Technical Death Metal

Lykathea Aflame – Elvenefris

coverQuoting my thoughts some years ago while inspecting a random recommendation from Metal-archives. “What the hell, I’ve never heard of Lykathea Aflame and their album (Elvenefris) has a 96/100 rating with almost 20 reviews :O! This must be some fine progressive death metal”.

Nope. Instead Lykathea Aflame must be the most overrated band no one’s ever heard of. Did that make sense? No? Good, neither does most of the Elvenefris. Don’t get me wrong, it has plenty of great musicianship and heavy-duty barrage, I can understand why some people like it. But mainly, it’s a huge mishmash.

Many riffs on Elvenefris sound to be played at random, halting another riff, spiritual melody, section, or whatnot suddenly. These halts are almost always paired with brutally fast drumming. After that there’s four different random riffs and two melodies until they return to the main theme. Many of these placeholder riffs are sure nimble, but sound uninspired and, well, dumb. Some might point out: “isn’t that what proper progressive music sounds at first?” Yes, yes it does sound like that at first, but not after ~10 listens and a couple of years.

Actually, forget my musings and the rest of the review. Go rather read the 2nd and 3rd paragraphs of Lord_genghis review from Metal-archives, after finishing the review I found out he put everything I meant to say down a lot better than I could: http://www.metal-archives.com/reviews/Lykathea_Aflame/Elvenefris/7208/lord_ghengis/89436.

2884_logoIt does not help that growled vocals are just ok. They are supposed to remind of Lord Worm of Cryptopsy but to me Lord Worm has variety, craziness and ability to really engage into it when Ptoe of Lykathea Aflame just grunts away. Clean vocals are at best tolerable, spoken word sounds about as good as recording them yourself.

The beginning of the first track, Land Where Sympathy Is Air is a good example of what’s wrong. Technical riffing with quite typical but rather strong western “ethnic” melody, sudden riff change, continuation. At about 50 seconds it turns to a cut and paste mishmash constantly visited by the same annoyingly jumpy riff that first appeared at 22 seconds. These kind of technical short riff bursts that scale to higher notes, and on highest peak repeat from the start are present on Elvenefris all the time. Judging by the good ratings Elvenefris has gotten,  it seems it appeals certain people. But the appalling 1.38 casio bagpipe melodies cannot be excused, and it’s not the only occurence.

Sadness and Strength has the strongest individual moment, with the best melody of the album leading to a fine, albeit a bit comical, outro. The leading melody resembles some ethnic pipe instrument(?) and sounds a tad like something children’s music band like the Finnish Fröbelin Palikat might write for their more serious tracks. Before that there’s some tight playing and a really, really bad starting riff. A Step Closer has nearly none of the annoying elements and An Old Man and a Child has more memorable than frustrating bits. But there’s nothing that really makes me want to tune them in again.

The crown jewel of the album is the 11 minute b-movie cinematic outro Walking in the Garden of Ma’at with fucking birds chirping all over the place ALL-THE-TIME. It would be atmospheric if the sounds didn’t remind me too much of Intel four-eighty-six processors.

4/10

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Persefone – Spiritual Migration – Andorra

366353As proficient as the guys in Persefone are with their instruments, Spiritual Migration, released in 2013, suffers from swelling. It has an incredible amount of content which can only be described as “stuff”. Ranging from 6(!) instrumentals to about 1 000 000 extra notes. I enjoy extra notes as much as anyone and there’s a lot to like in the details, but compositions should have more to say.

Persefone are from Andorra, they’ve released four albums since 2001, which all seem to have a massive theme around them. A new album Aathma is due to come out 2017, Spiritual Migration is the latest released record.

You can hardly blame people who have been fooled about the quality of the record (88 %, in Metal Archives). Well, first of all it is a quality record (duh). The production is top notch, instruments are very clear in the mix and still have so much power. Flying Sea Dragons is a great intro,  the beginning of the first real track Mind as Universe promises an unforgettable ride for progressive metal fanatics with some pretty full thrash riffing before sudden breaks and keyboards getting in the mix.

It is only with further listens that one notices that Mind as Universe, albeit a good track, does not really have much when it comes to song-writing. Lots of fine details; but the only thing one is bound to remember is the thrash riff that’s most visible in the first seconds and the twisted outro riff that’s arguably the best of the album. This is the whole album in a nutshell.

The growling / grunted vocals do they job with some emotion. The clean vocals may be a bit amateurish but the singer Moe Espinosa does have a rather unique sound, and the slight Spanish accent (is it insulting to call an Andorran accent Spanish?) actually sounds really pleasant. In the beginning I felt clean vocals was one of the weakest links of Persefone, but pervertedly on further listens they turned to one of the features I most enjoy.

What do I remember from the album then? Very impressive instrumentation, you gotta give credit for the ambitious approach. The Majestic of Gaia works great as an individual piece, most notably its last 2.5 minutes of epic song-writing with just the right amount of extra dibbling. Inner Fullness has a brilliant solo and emotive rhythmic chorus with some dual work from the vocalists and really fitting massive instrumentation. Outro is a memorable instrumental that sounds like a more somber part of a Japanese Anime-film. Returning to the Source has some of the most interesting bits with a solo that could almost be classified crazy, the rhythmics are wickedly unexpected. Unfortunately the end track turns really repetitive.

As apparent from the instrumentals and these high points Persefone handles epic melodies and movielike atmospheres very well. I seem to have pointed a lot of negatives. On my defense that is because Spiritual Migration has A LOT of high points that make it an enjoyable ride. When Persefone focuses into song writing without mixing too much stuff in it, they sound pretty damn good. Not many 7/10 albums have me expecting a new album so eagerly.

7/10

Weeping Birth – Anosognosic Industry of the I

Weeping Birth must be one of the best hidden gems of Brutal and Technical Death Metal. This project of Metal monster mind Vladimir Cochet released its first album in 2003 but robbed the bank with their second effort in 2008. “Anosognosic Industry Of the I” destroys, chills and occasionally even puts in a beautiful melody. Mainly destroys.

Seventy-plus minutes of monster riffs and huge tempos is, as a thought, very hard to digest but somehow “Anosognosic Industry of the I” is made fluid. For times when the listener may feel sated of crunching riffs, the occasional melodic bits are the perfect relief. These moments are for example the crazy guitar solo of “Hurle à la Mort”, “Orgasmic Fetid Breath”‘s ominous guitar lead turning into a melodically outbursting chorus, or the beautiful track “Shadowless”. Most memorable melodics are, you guessed it, topped over crunching high-speed riffs. The album does have dynamics but it is truly itself only when the gas pedal is stuck down.

The clean vocals and the over done, bit dull-sounding drum machine aren’t at par with the rest of the release but they are nonetheless only minor inconveniences as especially the drums are very well-programmed. The only clearly weak track is “Detestable Birth Tapestries With Snakes Embroidered”, which verse riff is simply just off, making an otherwise strong track rather annoying. With deep self-examination one might also come to note that “Love, Death’s Betrothed” is perhaps too technical for its own good, putting in massive disruptions after each other. On early listens it can be mindblowing in a WTF-fashion, but later on the surprise wears off.

The album is a surprisingly flawless piece, having almost no weak moments. “Anosognosic Industry Of the I” excels at constant variation, wonderful riffs and well-timed dynamics to give the listener a breather now and then. The top moments include for example the frantic and devious last two minutes of “I Was” and the evil break of “Der Tanz der Toten” with French vocals seemingly ready to gnaw the skin off your bones. But most of all “Shadowless”, an almost Classical composition, which seems to consist of a continuous bridge slowly leading towards the inevitable orgasmic peak.

Prepare to get bewildered, amazed and confused. “Anosognosic Industry Of the I” brings in a similar shock factor as Havoc Unit’s album “h.IV+”  – for me these two are the best Extreme Metal albums of the 2000s.

Overall Score: 9+

The review was originally released in Metal-observer: http://www.metal-observer.com/articles.php?lid=1&sid=1&id=18866