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Lykathea Aflame 'Elvenefris' - 90%

SICKENED, September 22nd, 2002

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.