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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.