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I'll tell you right off the bat - symphonic black metal doesn't do a thing for me. The farting horns and military drum march sort of stuff over death metal riffing is a huge no-no for me. It's not that symphonic black metal doesn't have its place within the genre, just bear in mind that this review is from someone who is not a huge fan of it.
Nonetheless, Nephesh seems to be Christian black metal's answer to the overblown pomposity of Dimmu Borgir's music from about 1998 or so onwards. In fact, it's almost a damn-near photocopy of "Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia" or "Death Cult Armageddon", but obviously with some different lyrical content. Everything is here and accounted for - massive symphonies, epic choirs, power metal solos, death metal technicality, keyboards, and of course some deeper black metal rasps just to make it still fall under the genre.
If this is your kind of thing, I guarantee you'll love it. Every track is bombastic in the extreme, although seems to lack the production values that bands like Dimmu Borgir can afford. Not to say it's bad production by any means - far from it. But the sound isn't quite as crystal-clear as Dimmu's.
As for the tracks, they all seem to blur together for me. "Sentence Darkness" I suppose is the standout - the choral intro is well-done, and the mid-section is about as heavy as this band gets, with some nice blasts and thrash riffs going on. But at times, one has to really remind themselves that this isn't Dimmu - the songs sound so identical in structure and overall tone that it's a little uncanny.
I suppose if it's your thing, you'll dig it. To me, it's just barely black metal. Though the technical skill is there, the grandiose nature of the album is exhausting after long listens.
Nephesh debut CD "Inter Armas Silent Leges" is a release that a handful of people have been vigorously anticipating, combining elements of symphonic and black metal, this will appeal to fans of Divine Symphony and other bands of the like. Funny enough, I actually pointed this band out to Jason of Nokternal Hemizphear a while back, and as soon as he heard them, he fell in love. Now finally after a long wait the release is here.
Overall, for a debut CD, I see a lot of potential in the band, it is a pretty solid debut release, although it does have its flaws. The CD starts out with this amazing intro, when I first popped the CD in and hit play, I couldnt believe that it was so good. Think Dimmu Borgir, mixing amazing orchestral pieces, and choir vocals. Next Sangre Immortal comes on, which I must say, is probably my favorite song on the CD (other than the intro). Next up we have Tormentors of Sin, which is a track im quite familiar with because it was featured on our second compilation. The keys for this song are haunting, and create a fantastic atmosphere. Skipping around a few tracks, Sentence Darkness is also a fantastic track, with a fantastic introduction, being somewhat slower at the beginning, this is also one of my favorite tracks on the CD. The "official" close of the CD, Symphony of War, is also a fantastic orchestral piece, and shows a lot potential, and assures that this band knows what they are doing.
Now as far as flaws go on this CD, I do not believe everyone will agree with me, but two of the biggest things I could point out are the vocals (clean ones too) and the guitar tone. The vocals have their moments where they sound really good, but to me, they got a little bit repediative, after a while, it starts to sound something like the vocals where done with a lot of liquid in the vocalists throat. If that makes any sense, they just sound watery. As far as the clean vocals go, all I can say is I am glad they appear very few times on the CD, and I hope they do not use any on their next release, unless they find a new (clean) vocalist. The guitars on the CD have a lot of potential in themselves, but I feel that the tone of the guitar takes away from the skill a lot.
All in all, this is an overall good release, and I think it will appeal to those who have been looking for more symphonic black metal in the Christian scene. I will be keeping a close eye on Nephesh in the future, and advise all of you to do so as well. Oh, and one thing I must comment on is the packaging, it looks fantastic! This is no underground packaging, this is professional, which makes it all the more reason to purchase!