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Phobos to your Escape - 85%

Kritik, January 7th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2014, Digital, Independent

This band from Norway decided on their 2nd release to be influenced by two precised sounds. One influence was the completely inaccessible Phobos album from 1997. That release is still one of the most intense and dark album in the world of music even today. The 2nd influence was one of the most hated release from In Flames named Soundtrack to your escape still liked by this reviewer. Of course, there was some other stuff in the running of the album but these two influences were what was most present.

The first track of the record represent quite well the mixture of the two influence I already described. It started with strange space sounds followed be a very uneasy guitar riff that instill fear right from the beginning. At the same time, we hear a drum play similar to the heavy tones of the Phobos release and the quite synthetic approach of Soundtrack. There was a lot going on in this first track and most listener may be overloaded by the atmosphere at display. The album did quite a fine job at demonstrating its potential and someone can easily listen to this single track to know if they want the rest of the package.

I have to mention the incredible talent of the singer on this release. He managed to sing in what appears to be four different styles. He sings the death metal style vocals, the black metal vocals, a weird kind of scream that may be directly influence from what we hear on the Phobos release and a more melodic voice style for the short break from the intensity the album gave.

There was a presence of many guitar solos that were quite rare in the two influence I was citing. These solos fit completely with the intensity and the overall schizophrenia present on this sound. There was also many short break that doesn't really help to calm yourself and were only accentuating the intensity further like in the middle of the track named "City Of Stones".

Most of the album was more influenced by Phobos than Soundtrack, while keeping the general synthetic and industrial approach of said album, the song "Regret and Eternal Sorrow" was more in line with the calmer and atmospheric track "Evil in a closet" from that In flame album.

The track "Warden of Eons" could have come right from Voivod if I didn't know better. The band just didn't hide its influence at all and went completely nuts with insane riffs in succession and a drum play that didn't lose any intensity during the whole song. The end of the song also possess a short space atmosphere break just to make you feel more uneasy.

The last three tracks of the release did try to implement some variety in the mix established prior and do a great job at finishing the album on a high note. The highly progressive "Reality Unfold" finished an already very good album in a great way but my preference probably went with "Landfall" that managed to mix in equal measure the two influence describe while adding some traditional melodic death metal passage of the greatest kind.

The album did lose some points in the first half of the release. The 2nd track may be a tad overlong and a bit lost in musical masturbation after the 6th minute mark. "Broken Beauty" just can't achieve the same result as "Warden" a little later on the release. The two tracks that followed were also not as good since the intensity was not kept high enough.

The production side of this release didn't have the same problem as some may have found on the In flame release cited on this review, this may be something worth mentioning for those of you.

In conclusion, this was a more than very good release and an album to possess for its better tracks that capture an atmosphere that was lost more than 18 years before this album. Asperium did good here, and their next is even more consistent.

Almost there but not quite - 84%

Writhingchaos, January 24th, 2016

Ahh melodeath! After Bloodshot Dawn’s sophomore triumph Demons, The Fall Of Therenia brings more of the epic quotient to the forefront. You have the top two melodeath albums of 2014 right here. The album opens with the title track and what an opener it is indeed! The double bass work is simply remarkable and what’s more, there’s a slight touch of the keys to enhance the spacey feel of the music. The really epic feel of the album kicks in by the next song “The Revenant”. And no, I haven’t seen the movie yet. Kill me already. Check out that technical break at 5:12 followed by a mellow acoustic section. Whoops almost punched a hole in my laptop screen there. The slow and fast sections throughout the music interact like a well-oiled machine in spite of the song going on for a bit too long.

“As We Light Up The Sky” and “Reality Unfolds” too suffer from this problem. However the latter is quite the prog leviathan, opening with some symphonics followed by some face stomping riffs whilst you remember the long bygone era of melodeath back in the 90s. You can most certainly see the subtle Opeth influence in this song by the interaction between the acoustic sections and the manic rifforama. This is true progressive melodeath folks. Once again I have to repeat myself but yeah, the song does drag on a little too long for its own good. Check out the soaring solo at 10:42 though. The one minute outro is quite useless if you ask me; sounds more tacked on rather than being an actual part of the song.

“Guardians Of The Gates” has a face-ripping solo towards the end. The breakdown at 3:34 on “City Of Stone” reminds me of The Arcane Order for some strange reason. Maybe it’s the doomy melodeath feel. If you want the more brutal side of melodeath, "Broken Beauty" and "Warden Of Eons" will suit you just fine. However the highlight of the album is "Landfall" with mournful melodic licks to die for and the almost perfect marriage of brutality and melody. Seriously try headbanging to this song without wrecking your neck at least a little bit. That’s an open challenge right there. There’s even an oh-so-sublime touch of piano around 6:00 with the guitars harmoniously blazing away followed by the end of the song with the piano slowly fading out. Hands down the best song on the album. If you have to listen to one song by these guys, make sure it’s this one.

However the album kinda enters partial cheeseland with the brooding ballad and hiccup “Regret And Eternal Sorrow”. Not that it’s a bad song as such, but it doesn’t really fit in with the fast pace of the other songs plus it throws the balance of the album off. Honestly, the album would’ve been better off without this song.

Although I’d admit, in spite of the fact that I didn’t enjoy this as much as Bloodshot Dawn’s Demons plus the album could’ve done with some fine-tuning, this is definitely one of the best melodeath albums I have heard in a while. At an hour plus, this album is almost too much to take at once sitting and some of the songs sound a bit too similar to one another. They need to cut out the flab and fine-tune their progressive leanings a bit more, and by the next album they might have a true masterpiece on their hands. Melodeath fans, if you’ve even bothered reading the review you already know what to do.

Standout tracks: The Revenant, The Fall Of Therenia, Landfall, City Of Stone

2014 A Space Odyssey - 95%

flightoficarus86, December 9th, 2014

Sometimes an epic opening track just can’t deliver a great album. With Aspherium’s sophomore LP, that would be wrong. Dead wrong. It opens with a really neat fusion of a Babylonian, Behemoth-sounding riff with a more melodeath sound similar to Mors Principium Est. These fusions will become a pattern as the album goes on. After only the first 3 minutes, it is clear that these guys are not afraid of time changes. Paradoxically, transitions can be quite jarring yet seamless at the same time. Two arrangements will be completely different without clashing. The opening track change from the pummeling, straight-forward intro riff to the slower, more technical verse riff is a good example.

Zeroing in a bit more on the guitars, they sport a similar prog metal approach to that of Enslaved, but will employ effects-laden leads to help them stand out. That is just the tip of the iceberg. Riffs. So many riffs. I wasn’t counting, but I would estimate that the first track alone showcased at least 10-12 unique riffs; all of them excellent. And as I mentioned before, they run an impressive gamut of styles. There are the faster thrash/melodeath moments, 80’s era Metallica leads, space rock, blackened death, and blackened prog. Speaking of the latter, progression is not only great within each track, but from song to song as well. Quite often I wasn’t even sure when we had moved on to the next one.

The drumming and bass work are plenty impressive as well. While the latter doesn’t venture out on its own much, it sports a warm, thunderous tone that compliments the mix. As for the kit work: double bass. Lots of it. But all the while patterns are changing with the snare, toms, and cymbals to create different rhythms and sounds. If the guitar is the album’s landscape, the percussion provides a rich texture to bring it into the third dimension. Their sheer ferocity also helps the quieter moments of the album stand out through their absence.

This is a concept album, and as such the lyrics are very theatrical. I would equate the story-telling approach most with that of Coheed and Cambria. This comparison fits not only due to the sci-fi content, but also in how the story just pushes forward while melding so well into the music that you can choose to follow it or ignore it completely. I feel this is the mark of a good concept album, as it lends itself better to casual listening and live playing as well. Despite being from Norway, the vocals sound more akin to the Finnish melodic metal bands popular right now. At times the cadence also brings to mind Mastodon, while the straight death growls are closer to Belphagor. Clearly there is some variety, but the vocals are probably the least exciting part of this album for me. They are good, but aren’t quite on par with the excellence of the other pieces. There were also the occasional lyrical arrangements that just irked me, such as the “we must find another way” part of the lengthy closer, Reality Unfolds.

Overall, this is a stellar (space pun, har har) album and a crucial late addition to my Top 10 metal albums of 2014. What is probably most impressive to me is that despite the number of influences I listed, the styles are played so well and combined so skillfully that it truly allows the band to create something unique. Not once did I feel like Aspherium were shamelessly appropriating. Rather, they have provided what feels like a culmination of what metal has done for the last 20 or so years. Recommending a few standout tracks, Landfall is just epic, The Fall of Therenia sets the stage perfectly, and As We Light Up the Sky even sports Spanish guitar and a very 70’s rock and roll solo. Seriously, listen to this album today. It is streaming in full on Youtube as of the time of this writing. You can purchase a digital copy or the much lovelier digipak through the band’s website.