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Hard to explain - 99%

ozzeh, November 25th, 2008

Lykathea Aflame's music initially annoyed me somewhat: probably due to the brutal-as fuck vocals. Months later I decide to give "Elvenefris" another chance, and I vowed to listen to it all the way through after reading all the rave reviews. They're Czech after all, and Avenger (CZE) are one of my favorite bands in extreme metal. Suffice two say these are probably the two best bands from the Czech Republic.

The music is very dense... dense in a Sigh (JPN), tripping on shrooms kinda way. The music is predominantly very brutal death metal with brutal palm-muted staccato riffs in what seems to be 5/4 time at times. The wonderful thing about "Elvenefris" is that these members will switch the speed of alternating measures up. For example, one measure will be played in 4/4 and then the next in 3/4 time for two measuresand then back to 4/4. While that's not a big deal, the fact that Lykathea Aflame also alternate between whole, quarter, and half note chord progressions, each respective guitar player plays at a different pace.

While all of this is happening, the guitar tone will switch to a cleaner, melodic more acoustic-sounding method every now and again. What I most love about this release is that with the incomprehensible vocal-mayhem destruction of Ptoe the anarchic sounding grind-core based riffs sound heavy as fuck. The devastation is only interrupted for beautiful clean-sung melodies accompanied by dream-like synth work that's actually emotionally engaging.

The variety in the guitar playing is why this album has such high replay value: the Eastern influences are beautiful, but when coupled with complex death metal segments, this truly is a masterpiece. While grind influenced riffs (shorter, punker sounding) appear less than the alternate staccato death metal riffing style, ALL of it is mixed so fucking masterfully it's simply unreal. The melodic underpinnings are abundant but mostly this is a non-stop lesson in brutality enhanced by the tireless drum-kit destruction by Martin Corn.

The drumming is so rhythmically advanced that it gives "Elvenefris" replay value alone just to hear the unbelievable drumming. The clean vocal segments found on a lot of the songs are usually accompanied by a softer, almost acoustic sounding guitar tone. These elements give the album a progressive feel as well, but I must strongly listening to the album from start to finish because it genuinely is a more complete, rewarding experience. The vocals are abrasive and in the same vein as Iniquity, but they give the music an incredibly heavy edge along with the ever-present complex bass lines. I would say that there's jazz to be found on some of the drumming and bass interplay, but it's not really that noticeable.

I've been getting into some heavier grind related music lately, namely Napalm Death's "Harmony Corruption" and Terrorizer's "World Downfall" and while I can't say that Lykathea Aflame supersede those in the grind department, I would say that they're about even in the quality of grind influenced riffing and that's saying a lot because the aforementioned albums are all undeniable masterpieces.

I believe it to the core that you must listen to this album time and time again because it's such a layered masterpiece and when the pure melodies kick in on every song, I promise it'll leave you in aural bliss. The only "flaw" I can think of with this GEM is that it does take repeated listens to even scratch the surface at all. This isn't Atheist, or even old school Coroner in terms of accessibility. This is technical in a brilliant, calculated brutal way with melodic underpinnings but it is so dense.