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Confusing and beautiful - 95%

harvestman, May 8th, 2008

At first, the apparent lack of repetition on this album annoyed me. At first, I thought I would probably keep this album in my collection, if only as an interesting oddball. But I kept listening, and I'm glad I did. I began to like it better when I surrendered to the music, and stopped trying to wrap my head around it. You probably have to let go of some of your preconceptions to enjoy this, like the need for at least some repetition and some sort of song structure to hold onto (though there is in fact more repetition and song structure on this album than is apparent on first listen). This kind of music demands that you submit to it and let it take you places.

One moment, your ears are barraged with prog-metal of the most abrasive sort, complete with screaming that falls somewhere between black metal and hardcore, and the next you find yourself surrounded by bizarre stumbling jazz passages. This harsh/ soft dichotomy is maintained throughout the album, and can get a little predictable after a while, although it doesn't bother me too much, due to the quality of the material. The jazz sections are especially good, and show that the band really has a grasp of the material to the point where they can warp it to their own ends. A lot of metal bands that use jazz in their music end up sounding a little naïve--not so here. Some of the tones and phrasings they come up with are just plain beautiful, with all sorts of strange keys and tunings. Often the arrangements seem designed to frustrate your preconceptions-- phrases will progress to certain point, only to stop and just hang there, unfinished. Brilliant.

Music Necessary To Know - 100%

AsymptomaticPyrexia, March 26th, 2007

Having listened to this album countless times, knowing each song like the back of my hand, I have been in love with this album for quite a while now; however, I will do my best to write an unbiased review.

I think the best way to describe this album is that it takes a minimalist approach to music but don't think that it is not complex because it is full of intricate melodies. This is a band that isn't afraid to use silence as a part of their music. The songs are not fast; they don't try to cram twelve notes in a second. The songs are "spacey" with weird silences and quiet moments but also consist of punchy moments where bursts of energy have been released. The song structures are hard to describe since they don't have a constant structure. With more listens you can really see how the whole album flows. Rarely are the guitars and bass playing the same thing. Dynamics is a big part of this album. The drums play an important role well, with fantastic cymbal work, further enhancing the dynamics. It doesn't just go along with the other instruments, serving as just a rhythm keeper, but has a musical flow of its own. Being a drummer myself, I have really grown to appreciate the drumming work on this cd, in additiong to everything else. In addition, they have dropped the clean vocals for this album, which just happens to suit my personal taste.

I can easily understand why people don't like this album: it's weird, it's "spacey", it takes patience and a lot of listens to get to know, or it simply just doesn't suit their taste. All of those reasons are legit. I just happen to love it for the same reasons. I highly recommend it if you're looking for something musically complex when it comes to composition - keeping in mind that silence/gaps can be part of the music.

Brain-melting stuff - 68%

Daemonlord, February 9th, 2006

Where to start? How does one even go about reviewing, let alone categorising an album with such depth and ridiculous dynamism?! Oh well here goes… Ephel Duath’s 3rd release further pushes the boundaries of what can be classed as not just metal, but in fact music.

Massively influenced by the likes of John Zorn, crazy jazz and a plethora of Mike Patton side projects (most notably Mr Bungle) from their second album onwards (their first being very Emperor-esque inspired black metal), Ephel Duath stand well apart from the rest of the metal community due to their unconventional and eclectic style.

At times very much like Dillinger Escape Plan (no doubt thanks to the many days on the road with the band), albeit with more intelligent structuring to keep your concentration for more than a five minute song of spastic riffing and crazy time changes, their downfall comes in the form of the complete mind fuck which is dealt upon even trying to get your head around the music contained within the seemingly harmless piece of plastic.

Without wanting to use the ‘style over substance’ phrase, it certainly comes to mind at more than one occasion, even with extended listening (I actually owned the album before I’d been given it for review, so it’s certainly had a long time to fully soak in). The album is certainly an impressive musical feat, but for me it takes more than a few random riffs to tug my chain fully.

It can be more appreciated as an art form in my view, but for me it takes more than that to be enjoyed on a higher level, with the incongruous nature of the album taking the listeners patience to the very fullest extent. With the magazines fawning over this album, I ask myself the question, do people really love this as much as they say they do? Or are they simply bandwagon jumping to gain kudos with their similarly ‘elite’ colleagues in the press. The jury’s still out for me, but check it out, and make your own analysis.