without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I have no idea why this album took me so long to give a shot to. It obviously has a massively committed following, they play in a branch of weird and inventive brutal and techy but still organic and old schoolish death metal, I enjoyed the band's previous incarnation quite a lot, and a friend of mine who's opinion I do respect a lot rates it as the greatest thing ever; it's an album I should have been really chomping at the bit for but it took me a good six years to give it a go. With 6 years of pressuring and tales of brilliance behind it, it's a little hard to say when I've given it enough of a go to really see it on its own merits, but after a few months of letting it sink in I've decided to stick to my guns and stand by what I thought the first time I head it: This is kinda retarded.
This is a dense, expansive and inventive album, so actually figuring out why this album sits so wrong for me may take a while. The album is a weird combination of middle eastern scales, Worm-era Cryptopsy riffs, major scale riffs and hooks, brutal death tinges, aggressive bursts, grinding passages, tech death drumming, new age-y atmospheric spiritualism, indecipherable grunts, and unintrusive but essential synths all adding into something of impressive scale. It does all this without sacrificing too much in the way of riffcraft, indeed there are some killers on here, and retains their former ability to be impressively brutal or entertainingly technical while being undeniably composed with atmosphere and emotion as a primary goal. There's really nothing else like it; hell, even Appalling Spawn who effectively merged the BDM stuff with the upbeat melodicism, look positively generic in comparison.
But it's stupid. Really, really stupid.
Not that stupidity in music is actually a bad thing by default. Many of my favourite albums both metal and not are downright touched, this just does idiotic in the wrong way. In short the dopey ideas on this don't really sound that wacky or crazy, it's all quite serious and careful in the way everything comes together. I'm not saying that dumb music needs to be ironically campy in a sense of "haha our music is a stupid joke" sense, but more in just an understanding that what is being created is on some level crazy and outside the box. Dumb music can be serious, legitimately well composed music designed to appeal on its own merit, I just don't think it should be this earnest in terms of emotional loading and atmospheric scale. Lykathea Aflame are dead set on making this music carry a certain mood and meaning to it, and that meaning and mood is dumb as fuck. This reminds me of my weird aunt who runs an antique store trying her hardest to cure my mother's back pain with the healing power of crystals, or of a nerdy kid writing a 38 issue comic saga about he and Sonic the Hedgehog saving the pretty girls from school and proudly printing copies and leaving them in the school library; it's doing particularly goofy things but it doesn't seem to recognise that it's being goofy. Instead of taking an outwardly crazy and strange idea and making it some kind of over the top mind fuck, they've opted to make this low key and grounded.
The cause of this coming across as exceedingly lame rather than exciting and fresh despite the undeniable genre-breaking inventiveness and stunning originality is a bit strange; somewhat counterintuitively, the problem is how damn well they've stuck this crap together. It's quite impressive really. They haven't done the usual "LOLRANDOM" stick shit together approach which most crappy outwardly dumb bands go for, as I'm sure 99% of other bands who would have tried to combine brutal death metal with melodic death metal with ethnic ambient with egyptian folk would have done, this fits together in a cohesive whole and that is goddamned incredible. They've done this with careful layering of both guitar melodies and keys, an intensive and frequently intentionally jarring drumming effort from Tomáš Corn, and dual styled vocals that like the drums can frequently betray its baseline music so as to improve a transition. This is an exceedingly carefully composed work and compositionally mindblowing, but the fluidity of it all is what makes it so funny.
I'll start off with the album's greatest strength as a prime example of unintentional awkward comedy on offer here, the drumming. Tomáš Corn is an amazing drummer who pretty much plays nothing but techniques I adore. On my first few listens, he was the big carrot on the stick who had me convinced everything was going to click and I was going to love it like I'll never love my own children. He's fast, convincingly brutal, progressive and fluid enough to change with the vastly branching directions of the album and utterly steals the show with some insanely well timed bursts of gravity blasts or atypical rhythm work. It's truly a powerhouse performance. He also completely nails Flo Mounier's transition blast technique of not using blasts for the main bodies of the metal segments or powerful riffs, but saving them to accelerate the music during major shifts in tempo, style or riff, or just to take control and hide what could be considered a clumsy join with well-timed moments of flash or percussive relentlessness. Anything which instantly brings my mind back to the coolest things about None So Vile is going to leave a damn positive impression on me, so to say the least concluding that all this brilliance is actually a dumb thing has taken some contemplation.
So how do I get from powerhouse NSV-esque performance to dumb? In short, frequency and context. Lykathea Aflame jump around a shitload more than Crytopsy used to, hell Lykethea Aflame jump around a shitload more than Appalling Spawn used to. In effect they were going for the exact same idea with their last band, but here it just goes for the gravity blast transition just way too much. Corn's work is scary fast and it works in launching the listener at a million miles per hour every time they decided to drastically change a riff or add in some uplifting synth loop, but it happens every twelve seconds so eventually it gets to the point where it just seems silly, if not a tad annoying. Then when you consider that half of these ridiculous energy bursts are used to mix something relating to brutal death metal to something that could be playing in a particularly incense overloaded soap store it begins to just seem funny to me. While keeping the drumming full speed while you drop out the guitars to make way for some soaring tones is an effective and clever way to link two utterly different concepts together, I can't help but snigger at it. Firing away on your tin-can snare at 300bpm might be a good way to wake people up out of their hypnotic astral sleep and remind them that this is a death metal album, but the shock is as likely to make me snort my drink through my nose as to make me spontaneously move into metal-mode. Corn's link up drumming ends up feeling like the musical equivalent of the ramping film technique in 300, except since there’s so much floaty peacefulness around the image is more akin to all the greased up bearded men instead tickling each other with feathers at drastically different speeds.
My personal distaste for the general approach of the non-metal here is more or less just a taste thing. I dunno, I've never been hugely interested in spiritualism or new age philosophies, and basically I find this sort of floaty, vaguely co-opted from eastern folk positivity shtick to be really cheesy. This is just me, I don't think they do it badly from what I know of this stuff, they've obviously put time into layers and harmonisation, but it's just my stance that this new age-y prog ambient is for shyster palm readers and weird aunts. So while I find the obviously looped bird samples or overstretched-because-we-obviously-think-this-is-profound nature of "Walking in the Garden of Ma'at" to be embarrassing, they're not really what I want to dwell on. I'd rather dwell on the (moderately) less taste based stance that mixing it with metal is goofy as hell, all the time. Just the concept of putting some sort of hopeful and spiritual minimalist prog in tandem with something an inherently dickbrained as a goddamned slam is just wrong. As I've said, they've done it way better and more seriously than I could have ever imagined, but hearing the combo executed for real rather than just in my head does little but sway my expected result from "fucking awful" to "chortle deservingly lame". They mix this floaty, dweeby stuff with admittedly very melodic and upbeat fully fledged metal all the goddamned time, and the dumb shock of it all never fails to bluntly suck me out of either a euphoric peaceful state or a rocking out fun one.
As far as I've been able to tell, the mediocre "A Step Closer" is the only song here which doesn't do something stupid enough to ruin any other good will I've built up in other parts of the song, and that's just because it's a melodeath song with a folksy outro with no jumping around or blending. There are good parts all over the place really, but there's always something dumb to ruin everything. "Sadness and Strength" may have the single best atmospheric break on the album featuring an equally catchy but intriguing sitar-esque melody, but the way the song's first portion jumps absolutely ridiculously between a menacing tremolo riff combined with a Mounier trademarked bursting blast beat and floaty synths or an intricate melodeath lead is just stupid. "An Old Man and a Child" delivers the album's BDM quota, and has a pretty cool part where they add some kind of spacy laser sound to a slam, but they also mix slams with the ethnic ambience and it makes it seem like Short Bus Pile Up have decided to massacre a Peruvian pipe band. I could keep going because these sort of clashes are just endless, but I've yammered on enough I think.
When I imagine seeing this live, I see the band be getting right into it with passion and authenticity, jumping between headbanging violence and sudden shifts to eyes-closed-with-head-back-facing-the-sky spiritual transcendence. However in doing this they'd have some goofy growl and tremolo merge with a floaty synth and laid back cymbal beat and I'd accidentally scoff at the derpiness of it all, causing me to spit my drink into their pants making them look they'd wet themselves. But they wouldn't notice, they'd keep on going, travelling deep into their very spirits while standing in a crowded room with visibly pissed pants, unaware of how they look. Really, this laughability seems to be the major issue here for me, I like a bunch of the riffs here, I like the vocals, I love the drumming on its own, even stand alone with moodier moments are pretty emotionally lifting and lively. As far a genuine negatives go, the clean vocals suck terribly, some of the riffs are just doofy on their own even without context (ie, the sitar bounce in “On the Way Home”), and the album is frustratingly overlong given the up and down nature of the compositions, but really that’s about it. There's too much good stuff to say I outright hate this, but it's too silly to really resonate powerfully, and too serious and controlled to be fun or charming.
(This review concerns the 2011 remaster)
Lykathea Aflame’s ‘Elvenefris’ is one of the ‘underground’ metal world’s most beloved albums. And it was re-released and remastered by the long dormant group on October 31st of last year (11 years after its first release). Upon hearing about this, I jumped at the chance to order it from cult Czech label Obscene Productions. The mail order package includes the original mix of the album, the remastered mix (plus the two demo versions of ‘To Give’ and ‘Shine of Consolation’ from 2002) as well as a t-shirt complete with the awesome album artwork. Along with last year’s reissuing of the Appalling Spawn (Lykathea Aflame’s first incarnation) demo and album, this ‘trilogy’ of legendary works now can find new life.
Any person familiar with Elvenefris is well aware of the near unanimous praise it receives. I agree with this sentiment, and in this respect, this little review is a little redundant. But in a time where a lot of the material from this genre is passable at best, widening the audience for truly exemplary work is the duty of this writer, no matter how small the readership is.
And to start things off, I will make this controversial statement:
I believe ‘Elevenfris’ takes the legacy of metal to its logical and artful conclusion, and quite frankly might be the greatest the genre will ever offer.
From the ridiculously brutal vocals and sublime blasting all the way to the incredibly sensitive melodies from the guitars and keys, this album builds a world of sharp contrasts. However, the most amazing of all is that these contrasts do not hinder one another, but instead build a transcendent whole for the listener to envelope themselves in. No other album gives me the feeling of flying through great storms and weathering the toll of living while treasuring the experience of being flawed. And unlike other similar works, it identifies with its audience in an empathetic way, not in a pandering or elitist manner. That is the key to this entity’s presence.
For the sake of brevity, I will forgo any more sort of pompous analysis that I might have had the ego to spray in the past and focus on the remastering. Just keep in mind that this thing is beautiful, in concept, formation, lyricism (my god, the lyrics!), execution and history. And if you are a new listener, it is likely that it will become an important part of your musical life. It is very, very special.
Bandleader and New Age (in this not, not a bad thing!) messiah Ptoe and his company have clearly spent some time analyzing how the original production should be twelve years after the fact. Thus, there are a number of explicit and more subtle tweeks to be found. The original production was of a VERY high standard for a recording of its obscurity. But, drummer Tomas Corn’s (whose performance is beyond transcendent) snare drum has always been at the heart of the critiques of the album. Its clanging sound seemed out of place to some (not to me), and it has been toned down here and given a more hardened off quality that integrates it more with the rest of the recording. This does not change the sheer speed and brilliance of the performance however, and serves itself well to a modern updating.
The clean vocals have been cleared up and brought forward into the mix. This is helpful in understanding them over rest of the channels, but due to Ptoe’s accent, they still remain somewhat unintelligible. That does not matter one bit however. The original clean sections possessed a more ethereal and submerged persona, and the newer version brings to mind the vocal gymnastics of Borknagar (who have a new album out!). I feel that the original version of ‘Shine of Consolation’ and its clean passage possessed Borknagar’s traits due to its relative sonic clarity in comparison to ‘Elvenefris’s similar moments. And in this way, the remastering has followed this route somewhat. This is great, because it adds to the consistency of work that was done on all parts of this production and builds a near new experience for the listener. As a side note, several harsh vocals seem to have been redubbed or altered. I will leave it to you to compare and find out which ones!
One of the biggest and best surprises is the inclusion of an ‘intro’ and an ‘outro’ to ‘Sadness and Strength.’ While only lasting a few moments, the alteration greatly changes the dynamic of a transition from an all out blaster like ‘Shine of Consolation’ into ‘Sadness.’ The fade in to ‘Old Man and a Child’ has been done away with as well.
In addition, the presence of the synths has been lessened, which in my view strengthens the aggressive and contemporary focus. They were very, very good in the original work, and they are altered tastefully here without loosing their purpose. The use of a keyboard is always a crapshoot in this genre, as a slight imbalance can ruin the effectiveness of the recording and send it into Bal Sagoth land. There were a couple moments in the original that were bizarre, such as the ‘organic’ passage in ‘Flowering Entities.’ The only botched alteration comes during the close of ‘On the Way Home,’ where Corn hits both bass pedals at once creating a heavy heartbeat or series of footsteps. In the remaster, this thrilling moment is changed to a silly electronica club pulse that is quite jarring and inferior to the original effect. This is a small gripe however, as everything else rules so hard.
The album closing keyboard instrumental ‘Walking in the Garden of Ma’at’ has always been somewhat baffling to me due to its heavily synthetic makeup. Addmittedly, it is a beautiful piece that achieves it objective of peace and melancholy. But, as it approached during my initial listening of the remaster, I had hoped that it would have been completely redone in a more modern and ‘realistic’ (for lack of a better word) fashion. It was not, but the clarity has been bumped up, making it somewhat more bombastic than before, which keeps it on par with the rest of the remastering. And to sum up, it is a fantastic work.
Again, I am skipping over how much this album has changed my life (and believe it or not, it has) and outlook on music in general. What is really important is how each of us is able to build a relationship with music and art in general. Granted, definitions and outlooks will vary, but sometimes something so wonderful exists that is seems impossible for it to not take on a sort of religious significance. When listening to ‘Elvenefris,’ I come close to what New Agers or Jesus Freaks feel when they are in concert with their beliefs. And perhaps you will too. A good thing?
As an end note, all this recent activity in the Lykathea Alfame (now known as Lykathé) camp has been stoking my hope that the long awaited follow up might eventually happen. It seems unlikely that it will be able to top this record, but in keeping with the nature of the theme of ‘Elvenefris,’ what is wrong with hoping that it will be better? Why can’t it be more amazing and save us all from the metal doldrums? That sounds something like a messianic plea, and you must forgive me. Perhaps a wizened hope will replace the naïve one that we humans invoke all too often in the name of something far removed. Hopefully that time draws near!
Originally Published on examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/review/the-essentials-lykathea-aflame-s-elvenefris-remastered?cid=db_articles
Lykathea Aflame is a band that can be easily overlooked. They're not the most popular death metal band out there and their album cover suggests they might be some Nile rip off band. This is too far from the truth. Lykathea Aflame brings a very interesting blend of melody and brutality to the table like nothing I've heard before.
Their debut (and only) album Elevenefris is one of the most astounding compositions to ever grace my ears. The art, lyrics, and music are all amazing. Like I said before they blend lots of melody into a brutal death metal style composition. One of the songs that features this blending is "On The Way Home." They also utilize a variety of instruments not typically heard in technical or brutal death metal from keyboards to sitars. And not only is the band melodic but they also visit various major keys which is a vary unusual aspect to hear in music this brutal. However it works out to their advantage making the music very interesting to listen to.
I'm going to do an instrument by instrument review as that's the easiest way to break this album down. I'll start with the guitars. The guitars on this album are just great. They go from very spastic and technical precision to slow melodic playing in the blink of an eye. These guys definitely know their way around a fret board. Some of the more interesting guitar playing can be found on the track "Flowering Entities." The bass is also very good although is is somewhat inaudible at times. There's a point where you can hear the bass playing over the guitars doing its own counter melody and that's fantastic.
The drums are also amazing. This guy has some of the most awesome and precise snare work I've heard in death metal. His lines are very spastic at times making it difficult to find a constant beat, but hey you're listening to technical death metal what did you expect right? The vocals are also very brutal. The vocalist does mostly low guttural style vocals and the occasional spoken word lines and clean singing vocals. The contrast between the melodic bits and the brutal vocals is what first caught my eat when listening to Lykathea Aflame. It's superb how the band manages to perfectly blend the two. It's also amazing that the vocalist is also the guitar player. How he plays such technical lines and does vocals at the same time is beyond me.
Overall if you're a fan of any kind of extreme music I highly recommend Elvenefris. It is a beautiful work of art that will be cherished within the metal community forever.
Standout Tracks: "Land Where Sympathy Is Air", "Bringer of the Elvenefris Flame" , "Flowering Entities", and "On The Way Home".
I checked out this album due to the great MA reviews (it had a 97% out of 16 reviews when I picked it up) and was pleased to find it almost as good as advertised. If you're a fan of Cryptopsy or Nile, you'll definitely find some familiar elements here, but combined in a totally unique way that creates a very special product.
The drums (Tomás Corn) are very good, comparable to Flo Mournier in both style and quality. They're jazzy in some places, incredibly fast in others, and throughout they are incredibly varied and interesting. The distorted guitars are nothing particularly special and could probably do with some solos, but overall do a fine job in the rhythm department. Acoustic guitars also pop up frequently, adding another layer to the music. The bass (Andy Maresh) is barely perceptible, but it's chugging along too. The growls (courtesy of “Ptoe”) are very low, probably too low, but I suppose the intent was to make the lyrics seem more “profound” by being recited in such an extreme way. There are also substantial clean vocal parts that are unfortunately not sung that well (also note the thick Czech accent!). Finally, the keyboards (Pavel Marcel) are used in a very tasteful manner (except for the last track, anyway).
The best part of the composition is the sheer energy and creativity put into each song. The riffs are awesome and played with such vigorous variety that one never feels complacent when listening to this album; everything flows smoothly without any boredom setting in.
This energy does have its negative points, though. What passes for song composition in this album is basically a constant switching off between “brutal” (i.e. distorted guitars, growls, grinding riffs) and “melodic” (i.e. clean vocals, clean guitars, melodic riffs). This, as I said, keeps your attention, but it also makes each of the songs somewhat similar to each other. It would have been nice to have some sort of concrete grouping of “abrasive” and “clean” sections, but instead they just schizophrenically switch off for 60 minutes.
Another negative: no solos. They aren't all that missed, actually, but it would have made the album deeper.
Middle Eastern riffs and interludes are a common occurrence and relate to the Christian lyrics (more on that later). These are very tastefully done and make the songs more interesting. There's also some synthesizer stuff that sounds pretty cool.
One last thing – “Walking In the Gardens of Ma'at.” This song, which just happens to be the only non-metal one here, is terrible. It's a bunch of bird noises set against some synths that just play randomly (or at least they SOUND random) for eleven straight minutes. I shit you not.
Without a doubt, the lyrics are the greatest part of this album, and they are what I will dwell on the most in this review. So far from being merely art brut Czenglish, these guys obviously got A's in English class. Here's a good example:
“I am searching for the land where I will fall on my knees
and will be weeping for a long time.
Where my mind shall extend on the sky
and my heart shall speak the language of the trees
and open like a water-lily
by touches of morning sun...”
Already, you can tell how queer these lyrics are for death metal. They are at times extremely sentimental (“His heart he offers them / ...and they spurn. / Then in silence and seclusion / ...silently he weeps”), and all relate to a common theme: Christianity. Oh sure, they mention Ma'at (Egyptian goddess of justice), but the sentiment comes right out of the New Testament (“On the Way Home” is the most obvious example, “Sadness and Strength” is another).
For most metal fans, this is rather unnerving. Christan-inspired death metal? What's next, Satanic Christian-rock? White supremacist blues? Fascist hippie rock? Now, you might say, “Death metal is just music; the lyrics can be about anything." This is technically true, I suppose, but generally speaking though, death metal lyrics pretty much always relate to death and the negative things associated with it (pestilence, zombies, hell...). This, of course, fits the music. But a death metal band that seems to advocate Christian nonviolence and pacifism (“Flowering Entities”) or eternal life in heaven (the whole damn album) is just too radically different. Growling “let's become the islands of peace and harmony” while being backed up with distorted guitars and drums getting the shit beat out of them just doesn't make sense.
Despite the contradiction, the abstract nature of the lyrics and the flexibility of the music makes it gel together reasonably well. What one ends up wondering, though, is why exactly this Christian band created such brutal death metal/grindcore when they seem to be far more interested in a softer, more folk music-inspired spiritual journey? It seems like they could have dropped the extremely low growls and blast beats and made a damn fine album anyway – less appealing to metalheads, but perhaps more coherent overall.
Positive Points – great drumming and lyrics; creative, energetic, and intelligent.
Negative Points – the music is its own contradiction; no solos; each song is arranged the same way.
Inevitably, most people with a notable interest in music will spend a bit of time considering their preferences and grouping them together to conceptualize a hypothetical album that is exactly perfect for them. It combines everything the listener loves into a perfect blend, and his or her face usually forms a shitfaced grin upon hearing it, at least mentally if not physically. While, sadly, some people will never find this album in an auditory form as opposed to a conceptual one, I believe, considering my musical tastes at the time of writing, I have found it. As you can guess, the album is Lykathea Aflame's Elvenefris.
Short-lived as their career was, Lykathea Aflame created a single album that in and of itself surpasses the quality of many bands' entire discographies. Elvenefris is an hour-long journey through epic soundscapes, uplifting and spiritual riffs, and crushingly momentous death metal passages. The attempt to even mix the elements contained on the album is audacious enough, but through either massive levels of skill or sheer dumb luck, Lykathea Aflame actually managed to turn their creation into a coherent musical work. Not only that, but the album reaches its ultimate potential given the structure and mood of the songs. Every now and then, I find an infinitesimal error in the playing, but after a couple listens I either forget about it or the error simply adds to the album's charm. It is a work that self-polishes with age.
The separate elements of Elvenefris are spectacular on their own, but the listening experience works just as well when the whole spectrum of musical elements are concentrated on as a single entity. When listening to the album from that perspective, the album bears a very strange feeling of flow, optimism, and daintiness. While some might think of those as negative qualities, I'd say they work for the album for what it is. To attempt to judge this as a death metal album is pointless, as a relatively small portion of it is actually death metal, and the death metal that does exist in Lykathea Aflame's music is extremely distorted from the normally dark themes death metal tends to embrace. As I've said, the music is very optimistic and fruity, and wholly embraces concepts that might be described as "gay" to fans of conventional death metal. The riffs, mostly played in major scales (which is quite odd for an extreme metal album), are so inherently exotic and foreign that it may as well be an affront to attempt to compare them to norms set by bands such as Morbid Angel and the like. The comparisons are so few and far between (besides the former incarnation of Lykathea Aflame, Appalling Spawn, the dissonant nature of the riffs echoes traces of Gorguts's Obscura, and the nature of the lightning-fast blast beats, in addition to the unintelligible, gravelly vocals, isn't too far off from the drumming style and vocals, respectively, of Lord Worm-era Cryptopsy) that one might as well judge Elvenefris as a New Age album and then tear it apart for containing passages where the singer "pretends to be Cookie Monster" and the riffs "are too heavy". It's a unique blend of material that's so disconnected from convention that it feels absurd to use any frame of reference other than the high points of the album itself.
I'd say even compared to themselves, the riffs are all more or less equal to each other on the album. Unlike most albums I've encountered, the songs don't seem to have that sense of waiting for an outstanding riff or atmospheric section - because all the riffs in any given song are equal in quality, they are simultaneously average and superb. The result: songs that feel personally crafted, fine-touched with a level of attention few people ever pay to anything, let alone music. It also reduces the unnatural tension that songs with these unusually good riffs tend to have, and as a result the listener hears Elvenefris just as its composer(s) most likely did: every riff just as good as the one preceding it.
The riffs themselves - the ones that can be called metal, anyways - are almost too exotic to describe in any great detail, but are generally very melodic death metal riffs played in a major scale. Despite the band's melodic tendencies, harsh dissonant sections are not out of the question; the same goes for abrupt tempo changes and tremolos, though generally the latter are quite rare. Every now and then, the occasional riff will pop up that is unquestionably death metal, and oddly enough these riffs tend to have more in common with brutal death metal than any well-known big name DM band. Palm-muted chugs based around semitones make up the majority of these death metal passages, and the penultimate track "An Old Man and a Child" actually has a couple applications of a slow, diluted slam/breakdown very similar to the ones that would be used in the later career of technical death metal band Nile. Also similar to Nile are the Egyptian-influenced riffs the guitarists opt for when not playing actual death metal, though these riffs are undoubtedly more light and happy than anything Nile have created. Unlike Nile, however, who express their interests in Egypt alongside technical death metal, exuding the general feeling that ancient Egypt was a crude, evil time full of danger and unhappiness, Lykathea Aflame take a much more spiritual approach to their music, giving off less of a feeling of "evil pharaoh ruling harshly over his helpless slaves" and more of "slaves escaping from evil pharaoh and wandering into the desert to find a promised land".
The final style out of the trio used by Lykathea Aflame's guitarists, and probably the most unique, are the New Age passages which dot the borders of the musical landscape set up by the band. Effect-laden and relatively clean in terms of distortion, the New Age riffs appear to have been used wherever the band found holes in their songwriting - and they do a damn good job of patching it up. Most of these sections last about a minute on average, and are generally mid-paced and calming, as New Age music should be. The highest point of all of these riffs is the last 90 seconds or so of "A Step Closer", where a solo concludes, leaving the music suddenly barren. Then... a small whine in the distance, a glimmer of light... and a slower version of a riff previously used as an intro for the same song, a reassurance of eternal harmony. Many of the atmospheric New Age riffs provide this same warmth, but that one in particular is alone in how magical it is. Aside from actual guitar riffs, little symphonic passages are almost always weaving in and out of the melodies, and they prevent the guitarwork from feeling like an empty, bare-bones concept.
The drums are certainly a very interesting force in the music. As mentioned earlier, the drummer tends to use extremely fast blast beats rather often, quite similar to the ones used by Cryptopsy. However, the similarities between the two bands' drumming styles end there. Lykathea Aflame's drummer boasts not only evident technical skill, but a very crappy drumkit. The snare, in particular, clanks left and donks right. It's also not very resonant - its sound is thin and abrupt. However, it serves as the main provider of the band's technicality. Being frank, the riffs in and of themselves are mostly very easy to play. I, a teenager with no formal training or devotion to learning, can play many of them. But the drum patterns keep the music from going stale or predictable - during several of the faster parts of the album, the drummer will forgo the gravity blasts and instead play a very interesting rhythm with the snare and the china cymbal. They cause the riffs to flitter and dance - it gives them a sense of life and mobility, an organic touch of liveliness. Oddly enough, the kick drum is hardly emphasized at all save for a few sections in Elvenefris, but the prancing snare rhythms more than make up for its absence, and the music hardly needs it anyways - kick drums provide momentum, but Lykathea Aflame's riffs are inherently floaty and carry themselves along with melody, eliminating the need for extra momentum.
Possibly the oddest element in the album when juxtaposed to everything else, the vocals are relatively harsh when compared to the cheesiness of the melodies. The growls are deep, gravelly, and very forceful. Upon first listen, they sound as if they could be applied to any death metal band, but a closer listen reveals that, whether intentional or not, the growls are fine-tuned for Lykathea Aflame's music. For one, they don't sound aggressive: although the growls are generally a low, dry, slurred mess, there is very little anger behind the words; they actually sound more like chants or musings than angry roars. And as weird of a descriptor as it may be, the growls sound very wise. The occasional cracks in the vocalist's voice add to the atmosphere presented by the music, giving the listener the feeling that the vocals are emanating from a weary and weathered man, a man who has lived a full lifetime of pain and suffering. This effect is demonstrated to its fullest extent at around 1:55 in "Bringer of Elvenefris Flame", when the vocalist attempts to growl and a broken shriek comes out instead. That's not a death growl - that is the helpless cry of a broken man. The clean vocals are very nice as well, though for melodic reasons rather than atmospheric ones. (It also becomes quite evident during these clean vocals that the vocalist has a very heavy accent, which simply differentiates the band even further from any others currently in existence.) There are several instances of chanting vocals throughout the album, but where Elvenefris really shines in terms of clean vocals are the reverb-soaked singing sections (yes, there is singing). From the slow, swooning cries at the end of "Flowering Entities" to the beautiful chorus of "A Step Closer", the singing never disappoints when it is used, giving the Egyptian-tinged riffs that much more power and emotion.
While all elements of the music play a moderate role in building Elvenefris into an ethereal monster, the guitars act as the base for the other elements. They are not necessarily the best, but the rest of the instruments and elements build off of the guitars, shaping and fine-tuning the music in order to add a few extra touches of emotion to the end result. Giving credit where it's due, replacing the vocalist and changing the drumming style would revert Elvenefris to a mediocre work of art at best, but the riffs allow these parts of the music to exist harmoniously - not because these are the only sorts of vocals and drums that would suit the album, but rather because the style of those two musical elements seem to be hand-picked especially for Elvenefris. The value of the technical precision of the drum beats would be lost were they used on a Cannibal Corpse album, as would the cracks and imperfections in the vocalist's voice. As a whole, the album is stable and solid, with nothing feeling out of place.
Even in terms of their own unique amalgamation of styles, Lykathea Aflame show off quite a few different moods throughout the course of Elvenefris. "Land Where Sympathy Is Air" and "To Become Shelter and Salvation" epitomize the band and their modus operandi; "To Give", "On the Way Home" and "A Step Closer" are the more melodic songs on the album; "Sadness and Strength" and "An Old Man and a Child" represent the band demonstrating their heavier, more BDM-influenced moments; and "Flowering Entities" and "Shine of Consolation" find a happy medium between melody and brutality. "Walking in the Garden of Ma'at" is in a class of its own; it's an 11-minute outro consisting of New Age material. Though I rarely find myself in the mood to listen to it, it is indeed very beautiful, and is probably the best way imaginable to bring Elvenefris to a close.
Despite the Egyptian tinges, the lyrics appear to mostly be influenced by New Age philosophy. There are many references throughout the album to "going home", weeping, the heart and eyes, "beautiful energy", and other strange concepts. I was never made for literary analysis and I know nothing about New Age beliefs, so I'll save myself some dignity and not attempt to extract any meaning from the lyrics. I will say, however, that the lyrics fit the tone of the music very well, even when being growled and grunted by a gravelly-voiced spiritual teacher. The album has a sense of general progression - the listener can detect that the album is filled with a certain sort of inner dissatisfaction around the first two tracks, and by "Bringer of Elvenefris Flame", the album begins to turn its rage into positive energy. The songs progress to become generally longer by the end of the album, and eventually, by "An Old Man and a Child", the exhausted protagonist in the narrative comes to a rest. I like to think of the outro representing the afterlife found by the protagonist - that the listener is hearing his thoughts of final inner peace. It would certainly be a nice way to end such an emotional album.
I cannot guarantee that I'll continue to think so highly of Elvenefris in the years to come, but I hope that even then, when I look back at this review, I'll agree with most of what I've said about it today. This is an example of opposite forces that somehow mesh together to create a mystical, unique, and frankly amazing experience. Chaos versus order, melody versus dissonance, and anger versus acceptance. It's arguably more spiritual than any ritual ambient or gospel music you'll ever hear, with its magical and heart-warming melodies. So listen to it. Yes, just listen to it. Honestly, the album is so great you might as well buy it on CD and cassette 20 times each, fly to the Czech Republic to get them all signed, name your pet cat Lykathea in their honor, name your firstborn Elvenefris, and then set your cat and firstborn on fire in the woods while listening to "Bringer of Elvenefris Flame" being blasted from speakers playing your signed copy of the album. But I think it'd be an even greater tribute to simply hear the band's work and get something out of it. Even better if you're like me, and find an album that lifts your spirits, makes you a happier person, and changes your life... Even better if you're like me, and you find your dream band.
Most technical death metal bands enjoy making music using there skills in music theory, this usually doesn't leave much room for emotion (Especially with how monotonous death metal is). All though this isn't an overly melodic affair, it still manages to convey it's concepts using less obvious methods, such as the keyboards, short clean vocal passages, clean guitar interludes and obviously the poetic (all though sometimes they are a bit... disjointed) meaningful lyrics.
Now this album is interesting, it combines so many elements so flawlessly that depending on perspective the album itself changes. For instance the music is intense,fast and merciless enough to simply see it as your usual aggressive death metal album. How ever if your more intent on atmosphere, this album will for-fill your needs. The guitar riffs almost always convey a sense of happiness and seriously enough it is beautiful to see that death metal and a sense of happiness have been combined. the drumming of Tomás Corn is very reminiscent of Flo Mounier, even during slower clean sections. From what I've heard his snare utilizes a natural skin and adds an entire new level of ambience. Although the guitar riffs may seem simple and at times a tad uninteresting, they are actually extremely difficult to play. Hearing such technically proficient riffs that most definitely express Ptoe's love and spiritually is truly remarkable. Ptoe's vocals are truly remarkable forget Lord Worm and Chris Barnes, Ptoe puts them both to shame although ultimately being very difficult to understand. But this simply adds to the atmosphere, the lyrics and the vocal growls together perfectly signify the connection between dark atmospheric music and death metal, beauty and brutality, primal and spiritual, light and dark. Although the bass can mostly be heard and it does do the music justice, it ultimately isn't anything of to much note.
Now let me focus more on the more atmospheric and spiritual elements of this album. The keyboards are never out of place and when they are playing there influence is always heard and felt within the music. As I've stated although the drums are fast and brutal they always add to the atmosphere, especially the natural skin snare drums. The clean vocals usually have a reverb effect, adding the same solemn feeling of religious chanting. Being masters of atmosphere they utilize their instruments to support these sombre sections. Ultimately it's tear-wrenchingly beautiful to see such instruments create such meaningful music. The next instruments of mention are the guitars of course. Although harsh, fast and brutal at most times, it is mostly very happy and even brakes into contemplative, reflective clean passages. But also into some of the most amazing Egyptian melodies I've even heard, Nile wishes they had such a comprehension of how to fuse Egyptian music and death metal.
All in all Elvenefris is at it's heart a spiritual experience. While most albums are aggression driven or are fueled by exploring concepts, Lykathea Aflame are fueled by there spiritual love, understanding and beliefs, to a point that this album seems to have a spirit within it's self. The lyrics are definitely one of the best parts of the music they speak of becoming more then ourselves, to finally return to the spiritual plane from which we came, the hardships of being truly loving to others, how tough it is to be so enduring through life, the frustration of not being all that we could be. A wise man once said "A truly good book isn't one that teaches us how to think but rather to question" Ultimately this what this music has made me do, and has taught me to be a better person.
So all in all it all depends on how you view the album. You could just blast it from start to finish and have fun with all the primal aggression found within the album. You could turn off all the lights and be enticed we the Egyptian melodies and reflective clean vocal, guitar and keyboard passages. Or you could play 'Walking In The Garden of Ma'at' first, think about the music, then listen to the rest of the album, read the lyrics and deeply understand the amazing amount of spiritual energy that has gone into this album. But no matter how you want to see the album it's obvious that this is the perfect combination of Nile-esque fast paced Egyptian death metal, ambience and a sense of true spiritual understanding and love.
Think about death metal albums in general. They are usually filled with unusual riffing, fast-as-hell drums (characteristic which is accentuated in blackened death) and guttural vocals that are sometimes unintelligible. Well, Elvenefris is surely a successful death metal album (with some people calling it “the greatest album of all time” because of its lyrical content), but it is much more than that: it is filled with grindcore vocals, drumming passages that leave you astonished, lyrics that talk about the progression of life, happiness, loneliness and a bunch of other interesting subjects, passages that manage to mix calm riffing with ultra-fast blast beating and even an eleven minutes track that tries to sound like a garden (it is basically made of synthesizers with birds singing in the background). Summarizing, it is the weirdest album I have ever seen.
In a good way, that is: this band simply doesn’t run out of creativity, which makes each song an interesting experience. It is common to have an album where every song is different from the next one, but Lykathea Aflame takes it to a whole new level: the only pattern that is present in the whole recording is the traditional grindcore drum ostinato (should I call it a breakdown?) that consists of playing the snare drums at maximum speed for a bar or two while progressively lowering the strength with which you beat them. Take “The Land Where Sympathy is Air” and “To Become Shelter Snd Salvation” as examples. Despite the title, the first one is probably the most brutal song I have ever seen, and it is filled with baby-eating grindcore vocals and ultra-fast blast beats, yet it does have parts where the drums simply stop playing and leave us with either a heavily distorted lead guitar playing weird scales or happy-go-lucky riffs. To Become Shelter Snd Salvation, for instance, alternates slow riffs that sound epic and brutal death metal riffs frequently, but unlike in the aforementioned track, riffs don’t flow into each other extremely well. Actually, it is quite the opposite: every transition (except the one that introduces the clean vocals passage) generates at least some discomfort, sensation which is intensified by the massive inhales delivered by the vocalist.
Three elements definitely stand out from the rest in this masterpiece (should I call it a masterpiece yet? Well, I tried to make it clear that this album is VERY good…). The first one is the snare; it is much higher than your regular death metal snare drum, and while people who take a quick look at the album tend to recognize it as a flaw, after listening to it for a while and attending to a Mork concert (THEIR SNARES ARE F*CKING HIGH, MAN!) I am pretty sure that the high-as-hell tone is intentional. The point of making it high is to emphasize the blast beating and the aforementioned ostinato, present in all but one song. The second one is the lyrical content: it is far away from the usual content present in death metal lyrics, and with far away I mean ideologically opposite. Instead of lyrics based on misery, existentialism and death, Elvenefris’ subject seem to be life itself, as seen from the point of view of God itself – whatever god this band believes in. Instead of telling us how our lives are meaningless, the band seems to struggle to find a meaning to them, while making use of metaphors and stories. The third one is made of everything that includes human voice: this album includes growls, narration, clean vocals and inhales, which makes it one of the most diversified albums of all times in terms of voice. What is interesting about the vocals is that the best parts of the lyrics are delivered by using massive and unintelligible growls and inhales, which leaves you with the obligation to read in order to understand the songs and their meanings.
This album is not exactly flawless, but it comes close. The recurring snare drum pattern is interesting when the albums starts, but after the fifth song it is easy to become bored because of it. Some transitions are clearly non-intentionally lame, which might stop your headbanging or lyrical appreciation, but they don’t manage to harm the album in a way that makes anything unpleasant to listen to. The production hides the bass most of the time (which is certainly a flaw, since every time the bass really appears it impresses you) and sometimes makes you forget that there are bass drums and toms being played, but the amount of distortion on the guitars in simply perfect. The vocals are unintelligible most of the time, but it is hardly a flaw, since unintelligible vocals is common in death metal. Some people might complain about the last track, “Walking in The Gardens of Ma’at”, but honestly, if you find birds with synthesizers that boring, you can simply skip it.
Elvenefris is in fact one of the most interesting and creative albums that were ever recorded, but it is kind of overrated, mainly because of its creative lyrics and its impressive breakdowns. It is not "the best metal album ever" by far, but even if the production harms the finishing product a bit, it is certainly a masterpiece and should be owned by every metalhead.
Lykathea Aflame's Elvenefris is a spiritual journey into the world of unknown. This CD disproves that evolution is a curse, this is a muscial revelation and a spiritual spark that ignites with each and every coherent note that is played through the 72 minutes of music that the band has compacted through a thought that has forever cursed and abused the fact that the existentalistic rituals and realities have borne fruit to. The music sums up a totality of human ability, thought, desire, belief, dream and finally an execution that again affirms faith into sum being greater than the parts. The band has not devised a plan, they have no calms about expressing their innermost infectious feelings through the most unique form of music known to mankind. Elvenefris was released in the year 2000 and having listened to this album since 2005, it's only today in 2009 that I can say I have managed to comprehend a message so twisted and cryptic that one would have to undergo a tremendous process of rigorous self analysis and introspection with regard to their music, only to realize there's no absolute journey or destination that has to be reached, there are just moments of elevated levels of assumption and presumption that internally enable an individual to empower himself through the journey, Elvenefris is a journey.
Elvenefris to me is not music based, neither based on the capabilites of the members who display astounding proficiency in handling their instrument, Elvenefris, whole is the resultant of lyrics, a lyrical theme so powerful that it held together the most powerful of abilities to be captured through the dimensions of time and production awesomeness. The lyrics of this album in particular are by far the best that any band in the metal genre has ever managed to produce, the lyrics bind together a feeling of calmness, a feeling of expressing the inner most devils through the predicaments of life and at the same time engage in a constant struggle to be not misuderstood, they dwelve upon the very own human thought patterns and existentalism by the virtue of questioning and leaving behind the quest for independent thinking.
From Flowering Entities
Any negative emotion as a response,
for stimulus from envirous arisen in us,
show us that we are still within power,
of superficial dimension and teach us.
The lyrics, as expressed do not let the listener mature through the musical harmonies and melodies entwined with them, they stand independent irrespective of the exceptional musical atmosphere that encroaches them through the dimensions offered by the instruments, influencing eastern elements add up to the mystical aura of questioning that the band wants to and at the same time lightens the path of unknown for the jouney to be taken. Elvenefris is a intellectually stimulating experience that should not be lost just by the music that surrounds an internal philosophy, it has to be devoured, mentally consumed to understand the striking inabilities of the man in relieving himself off the anomalies for the path into the superficious and extend an eternal inquisitiveness into the patterns of evolution, till then, it is still a curse.
The music of Elvenefris is a perfectly simulated experience that only the collision of ideologies and implementation of non-prejudiced withhold, the album is full of illustrious waves of thought that is brough to life through the help of vocal chords, strings and stretched skins. The guitarists of the album web through the complexities of the lyrics effectively to construct a thought pattern in itself that weaves a sea of imagination through the mind struck and actively frozen world of musicians, the guitars often overshadow their contemporaries to establish a unique sound through the enchanting eastern instruments, that chip in to mesmerize one with the melodies that so easily encapsulate the listener, the solo's are impeccable, surprisingly the solo's do not take the center stange, Elvenefris has the most complicated rythm section in whole of metal, the guitars just burp out through the unholy hands that attach themselves through the devotion of beliefs and playing efficiencies. The guitars on whole of this CD form a pattern of following their ideas and ideologies expressed in that moment. The breakdowns are so meaningful, they've always lead to the greater part of the realization process that is to follow through simpler patterns that evolve to contrast what just followed. The guitar playing is complex to say the least, why the complexity is a question when the band does just fine by empoweing the lyrics using simpler intrinsic patterns that add up to the message of the lyrics. As I understand, the burden of having to realize the expression of lyrics so abnormally powerful has to be coupled only with a way like this, every song independently dependent on the basic human thought and an accomplishment that itself, set's out to achieve a higher and more brutal introspective emotions withheld. Every song emerges with a perfect stimulating analogy, a flawless reflection through the guitars some times building the atmosphere and the feel of the track that would only gobble up the mean and the insensitive. On the whole, this album does not bring to the world a whole new guitar playing, what this album does, that no other in the present days is bring out guitar pieces that so easily sew themselves to the path of broken words and mind wrenching truths. The most impressive parts on the album are the non distorted outputs that so gently and sensibly pierce one through the grey matter to inculcate the stimulation, and once the damange of it is done, the incessant and the brutal skinning of it is done to review a whole new experience of expertise that only Lykathea Aflame can offer for all time to come.
The drumming on this album is a unique high that no other drummer has dared to produce in all the time of metal music's existence, they build up just like the guitars to undo the damage of the lyrics only to realize they've entrusted oneself with the greater responsibility of understanding this gentle journey. The drummer is unbelivably honest and fast with his mode of expression, with every unique riffing pattern, the drums mould themselves to a newer level of brutality that acknowledge everything that the band is propagating through this CD, every single second of this album is a different experience through a different instrument, that pin pointing it to a unique source is extremely difficult, but yet, the drums stand out in their department not only because of the ability of the drummer to be fast and be heard in the jungle of sounds and notes, but because of the ability of the drummer to coherently interfere with something so beautiful that the whole purpose is set itself and aligned to a new level, a new dimension through it. The band's opening track, Land Where Sympathy is Air, is perhaps one of the most destructing pieces of music that one has to sit through to understand the beauty in expression and experience. The drummer right from the second where he quietly chip's in with his masterpieces exhibits an exuberating sense of time. Every stretched skin and every piece of metal out in the kit has not a second of unwantedness, every single second is a massacre that engulfs the senses of the listener. It is meaningless to express how fast or how effective the drummer is, it just adds up to the mediocre ways of reviewing any normal artist, Lykathea Aflame is not a normal band, they are exceptionally and intellectually stimulating where the independent and the individual pieces of perfection are laid across to create and have created a masterpiece.
The bass guitar has often been misrepresented and misinterpreted, lost in layers of production wonders and confined to the background of behemoth riffs, the bass guitar and bassists in general have been a folk of (mostly) under-appreciated people who through time have reformed through the demands of pulsating drums and acting like the proficient back bone of the band, the bass on Elvenefris does everything that a bassist is expected to do, hide in the shadows providing the necessary darkness to the patch of brightly lit beauty of the togetherness of a band. The bass on this CD is a veritable treat, extremely complex with riffs and independent in the areas where there is a perfect necessity to carry out the burden, thought lost in the sudden build up's and break downs of the music, the bassist acknowledges the necessity of deception through the guitarists work and emerges from the depths of perfection to hold still the complex existence of individuality coupled with a perfect sense of time. The intro of To Become Shelter and Salvation is the perfect example of this, the bass builds up innocently a tempo that is followed on by the fastest and creative riffs, the best part would be the continuation of the riffs breaking down to the simple bass parts that support them only to proceed onto the next set of executions. The bassist has chosen his medium of resentful expression on a journey in perhaps the most brilliant way possible.
Elvenefris is a progression of musical melodies from extreme to soul soothing intricacies, the album opens in perhaps the most unique and brutal Land Where Sympathy is Air and makes way for melody to seep through right from Flowering Entities, the fourth track of the album, and there on progresses to mix an even contest of technicality and brutality with melody. On The Way Home is perhaps my favourite track of the album, this track brings about exactly the truest elements of melody right from the first second of the song and continues it with a perturbed mix of technically executed perfection. The progress of the album is so smooth one often fails to recognize it, the elements of melody seep slow through time that the disc quietly runs about, eventually ending with Walking In The Garden of Ma'at, which is an absolute masterpiece on keys, considering the turmoil and the confusion that the band puts through the listener, Walking In The Garden of Ma'at is a supposed relief but it's interesting the way the band creates a unique experience adding the chirping of birds and eventually lifts off the listener off his feet through the sheer power of mental visualization that this piece of music creates. Beginning with the first track to the last track, the way the band creates an atmosphere, includes elements of middle eastern prominence, mixes technicality, brutality and melody and finally, the lyrical theme of the output is such an awesome process to comprehend and will surely be missed on the first few listens. This is a CD that should be thoroughly enjoyed as a piece of art and a fortress of exemplified structure, Elvenefris is arguably the best ever album in metal music. In the world of crippling mediocrity and label deadlines, Elvenefris stands tall admist the ruins of illogical and random outbursts of expression and superior quality death metal. For once, the world has borne witness to a phenomenon that shall stand the test of time forever.
Lykathea Aflame's music initially annoyed me somewhat: probably due to the brutal-as fuck vocals. Months later I decide to give "Elvenefris" another chance, and I vowed to listen to it all the way through after reading all the rave reviews. They're Czech after all, and Avenger (CZE) are one of my favorite bands in extreme metal. Suffice two say these are probably the two best bands from the Czech Republic.
The music is very dense... dense in a Sigh (JPN), tripping on shrooms kinda way. The music is predominantly very brutal death metal with brutal palm-muted staccato riffs in what seems to be 5/4 time at times. The wonderful thing about "Elvenefris" is that these members will switch the speed of alternating measures up. For example, one measure will be played in 4/4 and then the next in 3/4 time for two measuresand then back to 4/4. While that's not a big deal, the fact that Lykathea Aflame also alternate between whole, quarter, and half note chord progressions, each respective guitar player plays at a different pace.
While all of this is happening, the guitar tone will switch to a cleaner, melodic more acoustic-sounding method every now and again. What I most love about this release is that with the incomprehensible vocal-mayhem destruction of Ptoe the anarchic sounding grind-core based riffs sound heavy as fuck. The devastation is only interrupted for beautiful clean-sung melodies accompanied by dream-like synth work that's actually emotionally engaging.
The variety in the guitar playing is why this album has such high replay value: the Eastern influences are beautiful, but when coupled with complex death metal segments, this truly is a masterpiece. While grind influenced riffs (shorter, punker sounding) appear less than the alternate staccato death metal riffing style, ALL of it is mixed so fucking masterfully it's simply unreal. The melodic underpinnings are abundant but mostly this is a non-stop lesson in brutality enhanced by the tireless drum-kit destruction by Martin Corn.
The drumming is so rhythmically advanced that it gives "Elvenefris" replay value alone just to hear the unbelievable drumming. The clean vocal segments found on a lot of the songs are usually accompanied by a softer, almost acoustic sounding guitar tone. These elements give the album a progressive feel as well, but I must strongly listening to the album from start to finish because it genuinely is a more complete, rewarding experience. The vocals are abrasive and in the same vein as Iniquity, but they give the music an incredibly heavy edge along with the ever-present complex bass lines. I would say that there's jazz to be found on some of the drumming and bass interplay, but it's not really that noticeable.
I've been getting into some heavier grind related music lately, namely Napalm Death's "Harmony Corruption" and Terrorizer's "World Downfall" and while I can't say that Lykathea Aflame supersede those in the grind department, I would say that they're about even in the quality of grind influenced riffing and that's saying a lot because the aforementioned albums are all undeniable masterpieces.
I believe it to the core that you must listen to this album time and time again because it's such a layered masterpiece and when the pure melodies kick in on every song, I promise it'll leave you in aural bliss. The only "flaw" I can think of with this GEM is that it does take repeated listens to even scratch the surface at all. This isn't Atheist, or even old school Coroner in terms of accessibility. This is technical in a brilliant, calculated brutal way with melodic underpinnings but it is so dense.
Before I begin to praise this album, let me mention that I'm usually very negative when it comes to the Brutal Death genre. Something about the sound annoys me and I cannot come to like it. The only exceptions were Azarath and Nile, for some reason. But now I can add a third band to that: Lykathea Aflame.
From the very first second, this album showed me that brutality doesn't mean lack of beauty. The incredibly Eastern sound with which the first track "Land Where Sympathy Is Air" opens mixes brilliantly with the fast pace and relentless drumming that follows. Throughout the song we get a great balance between slow, Eastern with clean vocals and fast and brutal with the typical brutal vocals to go with it. In that aspect, Lykathea doesn't show themselves renewing. But as the album continues, they show that in the end, you'll be obliged to regard the entire album as a masterpiece of progressive song-writing.
The clean vocals re-appear more often than I expected at my first listen, while this doesn't mean the album is packed with cleanness. No, far from it. Around every turn, we meet power and agression, there's definitely no lack of it. But the improvement is that on this album, the agression comes in doses, rather than non-stop. Several times, the music slows down and the agression makes way for a softer emotional interlude which never takes too long. This may sound like the end-result is a chaotic mix of loud-silent, soft-hard, but nothing is further from the truth. It all flows into each other beautifully.
Another big plus was the track "Bringer of Elvenefris Flame". You will notice I pick out the first tracks, but it's thanks to these that I managed to stay interested and actually finished listening to the album. This particular track pleased me because of the drums. What annoys me in several brutal bands is that generic sound of drums on every album, as if every band out there has the same drummer. This track however focuses more on the guitar-work and this is probably the main reason why I finished the album. If you don't agree with my drum-statement, keep in mind that I'm not a fan of brutal death/grind and that I only say it like it sounds for me. Because I can't help but hear the same boring drum patterns that take away the pleasure of listening. It's a problem I only find in these particular genres, but Lykathea Aflame somehow managed to avoid the pitfalls that I dislike.
To conclude: if you're not a fan of this kind of music, but figure you want to give it a shot: Lykathea Aflame. People with a weakness for innovative/progressive/avant-garde/experimental bands will find the unique brilliance that is "Elvenefris" irrestitable. I can't wait to hear more from these guys in their "new" band.
I am not a massive brutal/technical death metal fan, though there are notable exceptions. Nile are one, and Necrophagist are another. This obscure Czech band, Lykathea Aflame are another one. Combining brutally heavy riffs, deep throated death metal growling and insanely fast drumming with the occasional atmospheric chilled break in the craziness, they have created a sound, which, at first could seem to be just bog standard brutal death metal, turns out to be something quite unique.
This something special is evident right from the beginning with an eastern style intro to the first song, "Land Where Sympathy is Air" which quickly turns heavy and fast. This theme of the eastern style keeps appearing throughout the album, in a similar way that Nile keeps bringing elements of mystical egypt into their music. Another constant in the album seems to be the aforementioned moments of calm, which seem to me as the band are taking a break, catching their breath and then launching themselves back into the madness, and with gusto!
The album pounds relentlessly at you, like any brutal death metal album does, and it isn't until the last track that you feel you can take a breath again.
The one notable difference between this and other similar albums are the lyrics. Most bands in this genre will sing about gore, blood, death and destruction. Lykathea Aflame, for reasons known only to them sing somewhat nerdy lyrics that you might find in a crappy pop singers repertoire, one that is trying desparately to bring their failing career back again.
One example is from the fourth track, Flowering Entities (in itself a fairly contradictory song title for a band of this intensity!)
As a mirror light let's reflect negativity
and show pure reality
let's become the islands of peace and harmony
in that vast ocean of discomposure and disharmony
and let the tired ones rest
I do have to admit though, that I really like these somewhat ironic juxtapositions, and the lyrics don't seem to hold back from the feel of the album at all. Indeed, Lykathea Aflame seem to fit them well in with the ultra-fast pace and heaviness of the songs.
The only let down of this album is the final song. It has no lyrics, and is called "Walking in the Garden of Ma'at" It is, in essence, boring. I do appreciate it when brutal bands try and do a slow song or instrumental or whatever, but this one doesn't seem to have a place in the album. It is basically the sounds of a garden with ambient music over the top, which makes me feel like I'm listening to a self help audio book instead of one of the most insane bands in the world.
But apart from that, the rest of the album is a frantic and ultra-heavy assault on the ears. I truly hope they do continue and create another album. The metal world needs more like this!
Who would have thought that a band so creative would emerge from the Czech Republic? I personally love this band and this album. Both are amazing. The mixture of Brutal and Melodic, the emotion, the passion, the underlying Egyptian and middle eastern melodies, the theme, the atmosphere, the minor and major harmonies. Everything about this album is enjoyable and beautiful.
The album opens harshly. Land Where Sympathy Is Air begins with guttural screams, some of the fastest drumming I have ever heard, and unique guitar work and synchronization of harmonies. My first impression of Lykathea Aflame (Currently Lykathe) was that of brutality, heaviness, and beauty. This album takes the listener on a journey through an underlying theme of fantasy, strange lyrical concepts, and epic clean vocals that soar above the rhythm of the music.
The next few tracks are nicely done. They smoothly progress into eachother with the unique sound that this band has made for themselves. The strangest thing that I noticed about this band and this album is the fact that Major scale harmonies and riffs are used, creating a sense of happiness that works smoothly with the fantasy theme and the middle eastern sounds.
I enjoy listening to this album much more than many others, simply because of the fact that it is so easy to listen to and indulge in. The progression is very smooth, and the musicianship is amazing.
Corn is one of the most amazing, technical drummers out there. His style is unique, unlike anything I have ever heard before. His sound mixes well with that of the guitars, clean and distorted. These talents come together to create an interesting soundscape, a myriad of metal and fantasy influences.
I strongly recommend this album to anyone who is interested in metal that is more than music. This album is emotional, passionate, and laden with beautiful musicianship. It is definitely worth at least a listen. This band deserves that much from anyone
Okay, I've been listening to this album for quite a few years, and it's one of my gateway albums into melodic death/grind. It's nice because I certainly haven't heard anything that can top it. After all of the metal albums I've listened to, I can certainly state that Elvenefris is certainly one of the top metal albums of all time (so far anyway, but it'll certainly be hard to beat). It's gotta be the perfect combination of heavy and brutal death metal with and absolutely beautiful melodic metal ever. Not only that, but the Egyptian overtones along with some of greatest fuckin' drumming I've ever heard, and you got yourself a perfect death metal album!
Land Where Sympathy Is Air- 10/10 A perfect opener, starting off withan Egyptian passage, and then blazing with lightning fast guitars and drums, with very VERY gutteral vocals, and then taking some oppurtunities to only slightly slow down the tempo, and then go into a softer part with some actually rather clean and godly sounding spoken word. Then it speeds up again with more growling and crazy drumming, and then it goes into some of the catchiest riffing on the album! Again, the Egyptian tones show up on the guitars as some of the greatest chugging goes around and kicks the shit out of your ears. Then it goes to what it was like in the beginning, and keeps going fast, ending on a soft note with more spoken word, and this is about the point where you can tell what exactly the lyrical theme is about, and it's quite interesting. You'd expect this to be about killing and death and raping corpses? WRONG! It's about spirituality and happiness and all that sorta stuff. Strange, yes? But damn is it awesome!
To Become Shelter And Salvation- 8.5/10- Begins with some synthy intro, and then goes all fast like you'd expect, but not so awesome as the last track. Growly vocals and chuggy guitars still accounted for though! Then a little later, there's a mixture of heavy death metal along with s'more of those spoken vocals. Then it continues with the thrashing, even getting to a more melodic part, only to end up slowing down with more of those godly words, and then it slowly chugs it's way to the end. Certainly not bad by all means, but it doesn't stand out so much.
Bringer Of Elvenefris Flame- 10/10 Another highlight of the album, though it starts off slow with more of those spoken words, it'll soon kick your ass with some off the fastest and most beautifully melodic riffs on the album, with some utterly insane drumming to come along. I swear, Tomas Corn is a damned machine! So it continues on with melodic thrashing, and then kinda slows down once more, and then riffs you to pieces once again. If anything, you could picture this song being like, the triumphant victory song, because that's kinda what it sounds like in my mind. The part at 1:54 definitely shows that off.
Flowering Entities- 9/10 Starts off with plenty of chuggy and brutal death metal, and goes on with it for a few minutes with some Egyptian parts thrown in. After that, it starts to get really soft, with the crazy drummin' still goin' at it! Then again, it gets hella heavy with Ptoe growlin' like mad at ya. As it keeps thrashin', you're brought to another soft interval, with yet again, more of Ptoe's wonderful clean vocals. The soft parts combined with the really heavy guitars really help this one to stand out.
To Give- 10/10 Now this song has got to have some of the best drumming on the album. Begins with some really catchy chug riffing along with Tomas's awesome drums, and then goes into the awesome main verse. After that's overwith, we're treated to some totally awesome soloing done by Mr. Corn. I swear, you gotta hear it to believe it! So we get more thrashin', another awesome clean passage, and then more of the fantastic riffage until the song ends. It may seem like routine, but BOY does this shit not get old!
On The Way Home- 9.5/10 Probably the most "Egyptian" song on the album. It has some rather soft-sounding riffage and more of Ptoe's deep growls. Then it starts to get heavier and faster with some really catchy riffs, and at some point slows down with Egyptiany guitars. The great thing is when the song slows down, Corn's drums don't! And then, some heavy chuggin', more slowin' down, and then catchy-as-fuck melodic riffin', and basically keeps up this sort of formula 'til the end. Anyone who loves Egyptian metal will automatically get a kick outta this one.
Shine Of Consolation- 9.5/10 Starts off real fast and growly, and keeps it up more the most part of the song since it's the shortest on here at 3:39. Spoken parts are randomly put into the mix as well, with quite an interesting breakdown. The vocal pattern is different here, and then plays some beautiful riff until it steps into some super-catchy fast melodic riffing. This part of the album is indeed some of the catchiest off of here. Then it breaks down a lil' with some chuggin', and continues goin' hella fast and catchy with little slowdowns here and there. Thankfully, the shortest on the album has plenty of substance to go around!
Sadness And Strength- 9/10 Begins bein' rather heavy and fast, with some not-really-significant slowdowns. It kinda shifts speeds back and forth a lot, which is neat. Next, hella awesome, melodic riffing! Then, more chuggy riffing, and then more slight slowing down, rinse and repeat until we slow down completely, and then a different and awesome melodic riff! This song definitely shows off a lot of melody, and it indeed rules! So, just keep goin' with more high-speed thrashin', and then s'more back and forth tempo changes, and throw in some Egyptian guitar passages, and you got one hell of a song
A Step Closer- 9.5/10 I'd say this is one of the slowest songs off the album, besides the end of course. Starts off with kind of an enchanting part, which gets completely contradicted by heavy and fast blazin' guitars and more crazy drums. So, keep the thrashin' alive for quite some time, and then move on to some chuggin' (not so heavy, but awesome). Then this song has...a chorus! And it's a soft one, with more Ptoe's godly vocals, and some neato cymbal work by Corn. Then we sorta speed up as it moves along, and then it goes back to the super-speed death metal again. After a bit of that, it slows down yet again into a more Wonderland-sounding version of the chorus. As it tries to speed up again, it slows down a whole lot, to have some clean guitars goin', only to lead into an awesome melodic riff, but then slows down EVEN more, to play a slower version of that last riff, with some background guitars. Then it takes you straight to the end, and there ya have it.
An Old Man And A Child- 10/10 This has to be my favorite track. It's begins with catchy chuggin' with bells goin' on in the background and more growlin'. The riff...the drums...so catchy...! Then it goes into a slower Egyptian part, and chugs it's way into the next fast part, which = awesome chuggage! Then it slows down s'more, at least a bit anyway, and continues more growling, which he does for most of the song, and then slows down even more with more Egyptian guitar, and then goes fast again with catchy melodic riffs! Man, tempo changes galore! Then it goes to another section of melodic guitar, starting off clean, and then going into majorly beautiful guitar + drum ownage. Then it kinda repeats all of what I just said, with a sort of slower part added into the mix. Then finally, the ending. OH the ending...! It's gotta be the most beautiful part of the album. It's got a really wonderful sounding melody playing in the background with Ptoe saying a brilliant spoken passage and guitars still goin' with plenty of melody to accompany the background and Tomas still poundin' the drums even as the song fades, thus ending the crushing heaviness of the album on the line "Let your steps be blessed, and guided by light!" Then it ends with some bird chirpin' as it goes into the final track. Definitely the most stand out track of the album...!
Walking In The Garden Of Ma'at -8/10 Well, maybe THIS one is the most "stand-out" seeing as how there's no heaviness....period. All it is is a very beautiful sounding synth outro. Well, it's nice, but it's reeeaalll long, so impatient people certainly won't like it so much. The rest however, should indeed get a kick out of it. Though, for being the longest track, not much happens in it, but it is some really nice synth playing, that's for sure.
Though not absolutely perfect for everybody, basically every second of this album will either touch your heart, annihilate your soul, or both at the same time! No track is below outstanding, and it's gonna be hard for any other band to even come close to matching its excellence. So Lykathea Aflame, we salute you for making the greatest metal album ever, and we hope you continue to make more of the same, provided you guys are still gonna record that album this summer...!
Wow, can any technical death/grind band sound like this? Never. This is some amazing stuff out of Czech Republic and puts a lot of death/grind acts to shame. This album is quite amazing in every way fathomable, from excellent drumming to insane riffs to Ptoe's angry growling and soft spoken passages. Tomas Corn's drumming is similar to Flo Mounier's of Cryptopsy in the way that it keeps everything together.
The riffing is simply amazing. Some of it sounds Arabian or something, and it keeps the music interesting and somehow melodic-sounding. Take track three, Bringer of Elvenefris Flame, for example. The riff here is melodic for this type of music, yet fits perfectly and is so damn catchy, you can't help but hum along. Another thing that stands out is the spoken passages. They fit right into all the songs perfectly. The growling by Ptoe is also special, it holds a majestic charm to it that seems to fit right in with the whole Lykathea Aflame scheme.
The album begans with a bang with Land Where Sympathy Is Air. The first Arabian sounding riff, then Ptoe's crushing vocals come in, and you know you are in for a hell of an album. Elvenefris closes with Walking In The Garden Of Ma'at. It's an 11 minute journey through this garden, with a background synth and birds chirping, amongst other animals.
Overall, this is the most original and amazing technical death/grind metal and proves that death metal still has plenty of ideas. It's a shame Lykathea Aflame is no more. I just hope Lykathe can somehow stack up to this classic.
Lykathea Aflame might have just crafted the perfect metal album with Elvenefris. Therein it contains everything that is great about metal and even music in general. You name it, it has it, atmosphere, brutality, beauty, melancholy, majesty, technicality, musicianship, longevity and all are extremely well tied together in a balanced way and and amplified by pristine production that rounds out the package.
The album begins with the stunning "Land Where Sympathy is Air" a flawless album opener. Immediately the listener is introduced to a middle-eastern tinged melody that would probably make most Death/Grind fans do a double take and check to make sure there listening to the right genre. However this doesn't last as the brutality follows is gut wrenching. The riffs are hyperfast and have an almost schizophrenic nature, they bury you in your place but switch so suddenly to a melody that was alluded to earlier most will have a hard time following it upon first listen.
The following songs including highlights "Flowering Entities", " On the Way Home"... aww screw it, there all highlights and thats really the great thing about Elvenefris its one of those rare albums that should be listened to from beginning to end, without interruption, preferably with headphones in a dark room with your eyes closed. Yes, all 72 minutes of it. To some this will prove a challenge, as it is a behemoth in length but thanks to Lykathea Aflame's constant ingenuity the aural trek never bores and always astonishes.
I know what your saying, "Enough Lykathea ass-kissing and on to the review, the substance!" to which I respond: Well Okay, if you insist.
The guitars, as in most metal, are what drive the music and here it is no different. Ptoe and company are extremely versatile, they can come up with pummeling most grinding riffs anywhere and also the saddest, most epic, and transcendental ones and use them all in one song, and in some cases in less than a few minutes, and it all flows seemlessly. To good to be true? well believe it, cause thats exactly the way Elvenefris is structured. Oh, and did I forget to add there are rarely any leads and absolutely no solos? the fact that LA are able to consistently wow the listener without resorting to flashing huge solos in our faces gains a lot of points in my book, and it should in yours.
The bass is barely heard throughout the album, but when it does it rear its head (and there are numerous places) it adds another layer of sutblety that becomes more apparent on repeat listens. This certainly adds to the longevity of the album, as it ages extremely well, I must have listened to this album in its entirety over 25 times and I still pick out new morsels.
The synths, although used sparingly throughout the album(except in the case of Walking in the Garden of Ma'at, obviously) add a thick load of atmosphere and yet another layer to Lykathea's sound to deepen the overall listening experience. I won't ruin these spots by telling you when they happen cause afterall half the fun in listening to Elvenefris is to constantly be caught of guard.
The vocals really surprised me here. Ptoe of course offers the traditional death/grind gutteral growls(without resorting to burping vox, which I abhor) that are very pleasing to my ears, and well done. But what elevates the vocals to new levels in death/grind are the great clean vocals with an almost chanting rhythm that add to the atmosphere, melancholy and the general uplifting tone of the album. Although some dislike the lyrical themes of spirituality and implying *gasp* God and his relationship with our spirits, I find them fresh and appealing for there honesty. It also helps that the lyrics do focus much more on the spiritual side of things (Lykathea means spirit, an Elvenefris is the spiritual home we all try to get too in case you were wondering. Ptoe made up the words so don't bother figuring out the language they are derived from) rather than a higher being.
Finally, the drums, courtesy of the awesomely talented Tomas Corn round out the album, linking all the pieces together and adding refreshing beats during softer interludes that transcend this album leaps and bounds beyond its competition. Corn is truly a master of his craft, he can keep pace with the best of them (Flo) and has the versatility of other masters (Hoglan etc.). He is the crowning jewel in the Lykathea crown, and makes Elvenefris the timeless piece of work it is. Highly recommended to any metal listener tired of the same old stuff, this is an original piece of work in every sense of the word.
This is one of those undefined albums with no specific genre. It’s primarily death/grind stuff, but never really settles on a grind groove for longer than a few seconds. Riffs are circulated, and interludes and keyboards give it a more flowing feel. The whole album has a really round feel to it. The drums are in the br00tal vein of drumming, and remind me of Flo Mournier’s drumming from Cryptopsy fame. There are a lot of eastern folk elements, especially with the starting riff of the opening track.
The thing that keeps this album interesting are that every track has its own feel, while still fitting in the album. The album is 72 minutes long, and I have to say I congratulate them on making it an engaging all the way through. Not really because of the ADD riff changes and constant interludes, but because of the morphing feel to the music, which really lays its base in the background melodies more than in creating a hook and dragging you through the songs. It’s chaotic, but organized. All instrumentalists are top notch, with the drummer being the most prevalent. The vocals range from the typical, but well-done low grind growl to cleaner spoken word and some female vocals as well (of the non-cheesy kind). The drums can be overpowering and are omnipresent, but not mixed so high as to kill the music (like on Black Seeds or some Morbid Angel albums)
The final track is 11 minutes of ambient with nature sounds, which I enjoy, but people that are looking for some excitement will want to skip the track. Without that track, with the album running 61 minutes, it’s a great album too.
The album doesn't age much, but is still highly enjoyable after several listens
Wow. When I heard all the rave reviews about this album I had no idea what to expect, but I certainly did not expect this. This is probably the most unique death or grind album I've heard other than Wormed's "Planisphaerium". What strikes you first off is the contrasting composition of parts of the songs. In many of the songs they quickly switch back between a few seconds of a very melodic riff and a very brutal one. Imagine the ending of Pantera's "I Can't Hide" (around 1:40 - 2:00), but the brutal riffs are far more technical than the heavy riff that finishes off that song. Guitar-wise, we are looking at some great rhythm guitar work here, with a little bit of everything mixed in, from ultra-fast tremolo picking to very interesting acoustics to typical fast death/grind riffs. This band seems to pride themselves on being as original as possible, and presenting very contrasting ideas in each track. The drumming on this album is INSANE! Even an experienced metal listener will have trouble keeping up with it, it's a wild chaotic mix of blasting, cymbals, and all sorts of other original drumlines. Beneath the chaos however, you can see that Tomas Corn has as much timing and precision as any of the great drummers in metal. Vocally, these sound like typical grind vocals to me: deep and guttural just the way a death metaller would like it. Every once in a while some very nice clean vocals are thrown into the mix too. The one thing that takes away from the appeal of the album is that the production is a little bit raw, which does not fit this album at all. It makes it more difficult to hear exactly how good the drumming is as all you can hear unless you really listen well are the cymbals and the snare drum. The recording sounds kind of like it were a live show but with no audience. Nonetheless, this is one of the most interesting things I have heard in a while and if you're looking for a very unique sound with a mix of melody and brutality (and the great drumming) then look no further than this.
What can I say? A few months ago, I would have told you that this release was very forgettable and bland. What a differance a few listens can do.
Behind this wall of seemingly random chaos lies beauty which must be heard to be believed. A rich cacophany of melodies lies underneeth a brutal forefront to amaze the listener to no end. Here, the band manages to create a masterpiece which is amazingly melodic, yet strikingly heavy at all times. The writing is incredibly well balanced as it does manage to show both these characteristics seemingly at once. The sound is also influenced by middle eastern mucis, which shines through on guitar lick splattered across the album (Opening progression of the album). This adds a certain flavour which does not get nearly as much play in the metal world. The music seems to paint a portait with its progressive sound, making the listener want to listen to the album in its entirety time and time again.
Technically, the music is impressive as well, especially in terms of the drumming. Jazz techniques are seen throughout (his left hand speed is unreal, matching, if not exceeding Flo's from Cryptopsy) and add a ton to the music. You will find yourself going back to figue out how Tomas Corn could possibly pull off those fills and manage to throw in some creative cymbal work at once. The guitar is very tasteful, and never overdoes it with the technical riffing as many bands end up doing *cough*Necrophagist*cough*. Vocals are extremely low, as you would find in much goregrind (have no fear, the music never ends up being repetitive). As impressive as the individual performences are, everything ties together perfectly, and avoids the focus being on one instrument (See: Cryptopsy's last 2 albums).
My only tiny gripe is that one of the track I find skippable (To Become Shelter and Salvation).
Standouts: "To Give", "On the Way Home", "A Step Closer" and "An Old Man and a Child".
A must-listen for all music fans.
Absolutely my favorite metal album, nothing can compare to the brilliance that is Elvenefris. The album is laced with brutality, melody, and really, really, really, really, REALLLLLLLY amazing drumming. Toma Corn is one of the best drummers in the world, possibly the best. He adds in the ultimate random fills that not many can even try to fit in to a .1 second time frame. Constantly pulling snare tricks and hitting his ride like there's no tommorow, he adds double bass to everything in a somewhat restricted compressed manner to create the ultimate drum sound. There really is no way the drums could have been better on this album.
As for guitars, I really enjoy when bands have two guitarists, and both are ACTUALLY GOOD. Switching off constantly with guitars and creating an intricate riff pattern, this part of the album is pretty flawless as well. There are some really nice brutal/grindy riffs, the likes of Cryptopsy or Malignancy, and then there are some great melodic riffs as well (Land Where Sympathy Is Air, for example). The guitars are always going, too. They pretty much never take a break, save for the last song.
Land Where Sympathy Is Air is the absolute best album opener in the history of metal, in my opinion. It starts with perfectly executed double bass and cymbal work, and leading to a great riff. Then, Toma goes off on his own, pulling off fills and crap straight out of thin air. Right afterwards, you are treated to Ptoe's amazing guttural vocals.
You can tell he is singing the lyrics with a sense of divine fury. Just the utter effort that went into these vocals astounded me. As for the lyrics...they are very non-typical of brutal death. Even though the band isn't STRAIGHT brutal, the lyrics are very different. Rather than taking the "we must be gory and sing about gutting women (No offense Disgorge)" approach, they decided to do lyrics about sadness, longing, and hope. I really think the lyrics fit the kind of music they play very well.
Also...the last track will scare some br00tal metalheads. It's a hefty 11-minute track. You might be thinking "ah, who cares." What if I tell you it's just a synth. And birds chirping. It is an amazingly beautiful song. If you don't agree, you can speak to my hammerchainsaw.
Reading along with the lyrics is not enough, simply put, for listening to this band. You have to have an open mind and an open heart.
Best metal album? Yes...yes it is.
Before anything else, let's take a brief look into the history of this band... Lykathea Aflame was previously known as Appalling Spawn, who released one demo tape and one full length CD back in 1997. Soon after, they replaced their drummer Gabriel with Tomá, who had already begun to make a name for himself as one of the fastest drummers in the Czech death/grind underground with his former band Garbage
Disposal. This led to the creation of Lykathea Aflame's Elvenefris, which was released in 2000 by Obscene
Productions. The Middle Eastern sounding acoustic guitar intro on the opening song "Land Where Sympathy Is Air" makes certain right from the beginning that this won't be your average death/grind CD, and certainly not your average melodic death/grind band.
If you're not interested in something that turns the typical death/grind image and sound upside down, then this album is not for you. A relatively open mind is required. Lykathea Aflame play amazing atmospheric death/grind the likes of which so few bands have attempted that it's a task to find any solid comparison; the most I can compare this band to would be a small piece of Fear Factory for the occasional clean vocals and a few of the riffs, the warm, organic buzz of Morbid Angel, the emotional, classically inspired harmonies of Hate Eternal (but certainly in a more light-hearted vein), the speed and schizophrenia of Cryptopsy and obviously Nile for the Middle Eastern elements. Thick, guttural roars, hypnotically intricate, hyperspeed, jazzy blastbeat drumming (Tomá ranks up there with the best drummers in the entire death/grind genre - he
must be heard to be believed), surreal keyboard work and virtually unheard of until now (at least in extreme metal) riffs that range from soothingly harmonious and melodic to brutal palm-muted chugging, meshed into epic, unorthodox song structures - this is what Elvenefris is, yet hardly begins to describe what this album has to offer. The excellent production showcases each instrument very clearly, but still retains a raw
quality, keeping the music far from being overproduced. Lyrically, Lykathea Aflame explore concepts of spiritual longing and the suffering that is the human experience, and ultimately redemption, which is certainly a departure from the usual lyrics associated with blasting death/grind. Lykathea Aflame is everything and more that the former bands it arose from could have hoped to accomplish, and is not only a step, but a leap into a new realm of truly unique extreme metal.
There is a definite order to Lykathea Aflame's controlled chaos. The first four songs showcase the band's most varied and violent material, ending with the crushing "Flowering Entities". The remainder of the album consists of more straightforward and gentler songs that, while less intense than the first 20 minutes, are no less amazing. The final track is an epic 11 minute keyboard outro that I wasn't an immediate fan of, but has grown on me over time.
Elvenefris is awe-inspiring music, to put it mildly, and in my opinion easily steals the Extreme Metal crown of the year 2000 (that's right - this album makes that year's efforts from all the other major bands look very dull by comparison) with perhaps only Necrophagist's Onset of Putrefaction being my personal alternate. Beauty, brutality, joy and sadness - Lykathea Aflame meld all these emotions into an unforgettable death/grind experience of gentle yet utterly dominating musical power that challenges the best bands in the genre. Lykathea Aflame literally became my favorite band overnight when I first heard them in March of 2001, and I have still yet to hear anything touch the grandeur of Elvenefris. Only time will tell if this band can top this instant classic. I am officially spoiled.