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Progressive Death Enlightenment - 100%

andreipianoman, August 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, ViciSolum Productions

At the beginning of 2017 the progressive metal masters, Persefone, released their latest studio album, Aathma. And it only takes a peek at the cover artwork and tracklist before you can tell that this is not your everyday album. My expectations on this one were huge and knowing that they decided to keep a similar concept to their previous album, Spiritual Migration, which in my opinion was their best one yet, I was very curious to see if they would evolve or just get stuck. Of course there was a lot at stake because with Spiritual Migration they set the bar way beyond anything I could've ever imagined.

Aathma is clearly not just a copy of their previous album. A lot is still the same old Persefone but a lot has changed. First of all, there's new blood in the band. After the departure of their guitarist, Jordi Gorgues and their drummer, Marc Mas, their good friends Sergi "Bobby" Verdeguer and Filipe Baldaia from the band Nami came along. Since it's not for any musician to join a band like Persefone, these new guys have a serious challenge to tackle. But they fit right in making the new line-up easily live up to the standard set by the previous one.

Anyway, let's get back to the album. Aathma keeps the idea of enlightenment and positivity and the motivational themes that they already presented back in 2013 but now they take a totally different perspective. Instead of just exposing their ideas and beliefs through music like they did before, now they create an evolutionary pattern. That can be seen in the symmetry between the second song on the album called "One of Many" and the last part of the title track, called "Many of One". The whole thing starts in a state of unawareness and confusion while you find yourself confined within your "Prison Skin" but you refuse to remain in this dark and negative state. An inner struggle starts to form throughout the album between all the distractions assaulting you from inside and out and the need to find your true self. A powerful and positive vibe defines this album as we ascend through the layers of awareness in songs like "Spirals Within Thy Being" and "Stillness is timeless". This fight between two apparently opposite personalities of the same being is very beautifully represented in the music through contrasts between clean and harsh vocals.

Musically speaking I really thought there was nowhere else they could go since it seemed that they had already went through everything that progressive metal could offer. But I was wrong. If all the progressiveness, speed, power and technicality had already reached its peak in Persefone's music, they decided to calm down a bit and turn to a more melodic direction. Don't get me wrong though, this is still a colossal and absolutely mind-blowing one-hour long progressive metal monster. But they have also explored a more relaxed and balanced way of writing their songs. It gives you a little more time to breathe. I also find that this album has the most amazing intro track ever with their guest musician Paul Masvidal's digitally modified vocals on "An Infinitesimal Spark", creating the ideal mood for the progressive riffs to kick in. I also like his vocals on the song "Living Waves" which is probably my favorite on the album except for the title track. But it is really Miguel "Moe" Espinosa who brings all the peace and purity of this album to life with his hauntingly beautiful and soothing clean vocals and the uplifting piano melodies. Of course he also goes crazy on the solos. It wouldn't be possible to be a part of Persefone without going at least a little bit over the line of what one would consider humanly possible. He even says that in the lyrics: "My soul is not contained within the limits of my body/ Instead, my body is contained within the NO limits of my soul". And while we're at the "no limits" department, Carlos Lozano is the leader. Although the riffs and guitar solos haven't got any crazier I really doubt that was necessary. His intentions were clear. He tried to step in the John Petrucci teritorry and plant his own flag in there. And I think that's just what he did with the solo for "Stillness is Timeless". I also really like the one in "Spirals within thy being" where he shows off some amazing sweeping skills. "Bobby" also stands out since his drum style is very different from their previous drummer.

And beyond all this they bring another guest, Merethe Solvedt as the frosting on their progressive and enlightened cake to give us the conclusion of our journey: "I am just this soul". Her voice along with Moe's piano really is the ideal way to end the masterpiece that is the twenty minute long title track and the entire album along with it! This release was made possible through a crowdfunding campaign that brought them the mixing and mastering of Jens Bogren who also worked on music from great artists such as Opeth, Arch Enemy, Devin Townsend, Amon Amarth and Symphony X and that means that you can hear all the juicy stuff at an even better quality than ever before. With Aathma, Persefone have once again proven that the sound of the universe was invented in Andorra. It totally lives up to my expectations and it proves that when it seemed they had explored every possible side of progressive music, they still found a way to evolve. I'm not saying that this is better than Spiritual Migration. But it is as good as. And that's as high as praise can go!