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Axamenta is such a band that never got the recognition it deserved. It is such a pity for this Belgian 5-piece band, for their brand of melodic/symphonic black/death metal is simply amazing, and unique too. I haven't actually expected this album from them, because their debut album, frankly speaking, sucked. Whenever I listened to it, I just can't seen to last until the 4th or 5th track, so I could really say that this album is a great accomplishment for them. On with the review...
First of all, the production and quality. Although it sounds fairly clean enough at the first glance, hearing it again will make you realize that the bass is still audible, and it adds more "fire" to the guitars. Meanwhile, the raspy vocals are very bizarre, in a good way, of course. It sounds like a mix of Dani Filth's baby vocals and raspy death metal vocals. it's just so wicked sick. On the other hand, the deep death grunts are great too. It's deepness complements the raspy vocals. Very awesome, indeed. There are also some songs that has some clean vocals, the first track having such is "Ashes To Flesh". The clean vocals suit the melancholy shown in the specific parts.
The melodies are quite excellent. It has a sense of direction instilled in it. It is not like other bands that only has a single speed throughout the album (i.e.: breakneck speed), which sometimes makes the music as boring as hell. Most parts have keyboards playing, which contributes to the melodic factor of the album. There are also keyboard solos, which are played at the right time and at the right place. The bass adds more "fire" to the guitars, just as what I've said earlier. The guitars show excellent riffs, both melodic riffs and black/death riffs, and some solos too. The drumming, whether fast or slow, is superb, and also varies in speed when needed.
Although the album has shown great progress since their first offering, I find the album lacking a little bit of something. There is also a track worthy of mention, called "Threnody For An Ending". The track features only the clean vocals,and is also the ballad of the album.,but despite the melodic elements, it still manages to fit, because of the interlude before the track ("Ever-Arch-I-Tech-Ture") and its dramatic ending, followed by something sounding like a screech. There are two interludes, "Ever-Arch-I-Tech-Ture" and "Foreboding". Let's start first with the first interlude, "Ever-Arch-I-Tech-Ture". It's symphonic and somehow eerie, featuring mad laughs and very good orchestral samples, and very fast too. The second interlude, "Foreboding", is also symphonic and eerie, but is calmer and shorter in length. Also a good setup for the next track.
Overall, an excellent album. You'll never get tired to listen to this album again and again for there is no moment that it sounds like a filler. Each part of the album will never disappoint you. Snag this if you are a fan of the genre, or a fan of black or death metal wanting to try something new. You'll never regret.
What is there to say about this record.. other than it is absolutely perfect, in every single aspect. The black and death metal growls are complemented with the dark and symphonic orchestrations and the perfectly distorted guitar sounds.
First off, let's talk about the orchestation, since it seems to be the one of the dominant portions of this album. This has nothing to do with Dimmu Borgir or Nightwish: the symphonic elements are very present but without being overwhelming. Most bands will alternate between guitars and orchestra, but Axamenta does both at the same time. In songs like "...Of Genesis and Apicalypse" are a good example of what a computer and quite a few samples can do. Yes, because, you can actually notice it's sampling. Some people would say this makes the music less authentic, but I beleive it's the opposite. The whole album has this dark athmosphere that only the samples can create. I think they really add (more to the athmosphere than to the music itself). I should also point out that a Grand Piano is used at the most unusual places, such as during the song "Incognation", again to add to the dark athmosphere. There are also two instrumental tracks that really mix together metal and symphony in a way I've honestly never heard before.
Secondly, the "Metal" part of the album. Everything here is absoultely perfect. Peter's vocals go from incredibly high-pitched black metal screams to just-as-incredible low-pitched groans. The guitars go in accordance with the orchestral samples. The drumming is fantastic too, ranges from blast beats to an almost blues/jazz groove in "Threnody for an Endling". I was really impressed by the drumworks, actually. It is one of the strenghts of the album. The guitars are very impressive too. Not too much shredding, which is great because most of the time shredding has no melody whatsoever and is only there to impress the 15 year old kids. The solos are often replaced with energetic classical parts (most of the time mixed with guitars and drums, so don't worry about falling asleep).
Now for the lyrics. Another strenght of the album. The lyrics are complex, well written and the vocabular is rich (heck, some of the words I didn't even know). They fit very well the concept of the album and do a pretty good job in explaining the storyline (even though you still have to read all the extra notes that come in the booklet). Impressive.
Overall, I would say this album is absolutely perfect in every single aspect.
-...Of Genesis and Apocalypse
-The Midnight Grotesque
Axamenta has been working on this one for 2 years and the expectations for it were very very high. When they finally released their album, it was obvious to me : axamenta fulfilled their promisses and delivered us an awesome album. They even made a concept album of it with hollywood allures. It's divided in three chapters. In the following review I'll explain something about the plot and the music according to it.
Chapter 1 : The cainreaction is initiated --- This chapter is the very beginning of the story line. The first song is Incognation. This song was also on their promo disc. It's starting with a blast and in this song Axamenta shows what they got. From fast riffs to melodic parts. It's setting the right mood to listen to the rest of the album. Demons shelter within is telling about a huge lightflash on Westminster bridge in the year 1933. The next song ( ashes to flesh ) is a little more melodic and much more cliché then the other songs, but has an addictive factor. Ashes to flesh has the best solo on the album. In the chorus you can hear the great voice of lead guitarist Ian van Gemeren. A nation in atrophy is more in the style of incognation again. A nation in athrophy and The midnight grotesque have some good sounding death grunts in it, but mostly you hear a black scream ( like Dimmu Borgir, but better then ).
Chapter 2 : The chainreaction is terminated --- The story goes on. W. Blake is considered to be crazy and is taken to a mental hospital. That's were you start wondering what the hell is going on. Prophet set to witness is a very nice song ( again ). This one is as brilliant as all the other songs. The instrumental song ( ever-arch-i-tech-ture ) is a special one. There are some hysterical laughters on it. That's W. Blake in the mental hospital. Threnody for an endling is a beautifull ballad sung by Daniel Gildenlow from Pain Of Salvation. It's telling about Audrey that first didn't believe Blake, but found out later about an experiment ( I won't tell too much about it , just check it out ).
Chapter 3 : The chainreaction is saturated --- The end of the story. The problems are getting solved. I can't say more about it without spoiling the story. Ravager 126.96.36.199 ( mind the number ;) ) is a very fast number with a very addictive chorus. Of genesis and apocalypse starts with a kind of radio transmission. This is one of my favourites because of peter's vocals. He's screaming very high on this one. In the middle of the song there’s a slow part with a kind of strange effect on Peter’s voice. This effect works out very well and makes the song sound mysterious. Foreboding is another insrumental. This one isn’t as special as the other one, but is a good break. Shackless cross is more of the same, but still a very good song. The Omniscient uses clean vocals, but when it's halfby it switches to screams.
Next to the texts in the booklet there are lot's of newspaper articles, notes from Blake and Audrey, etc. to explain some more about the story. You must read this to understand the story. I can't stick a genre on their music. They call it progressive black. But to me that's a little too less honor. You can hear progressive metal, melodic death metal, black metal, gothic metal, ... It's all in it. A true masterpiece. I'm looking forward to their next release.