|Review: Epheles - Souviens-toi|
Label: Konklav Records
Year released: 2006
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: January 15, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Rated 3/5 (60%) (4 Votes)
Obscure cult underground Black Metal, that's what we have here my friends. No doubt, for those unfamiliar with Epheles, you are thinking of lo-fi, coarse, grating, razor-sharp Darkthrone worship, but that is not the case. Hailing from France, which, over the last several years, has given birth to some of the most biting and blistering Black Metal of our time, Epheles deliver an opus that revels in a savage fury of precision Black Metal, wrapped in a clean, well produced package.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this long player, as the music contain therein is everything a modern Black Metal record should be — long tracks filled with hateful screeching, face melting blast beats, needle-precision tremolo riffing, sinister dark ambience and swirling malevolence. Main (and only) man Nephtys demonstrates just how effective the one-man Black Metal project can be by delivering a focused yet diverse album seeped in venom and dripping atmosphere. Nephtys possesses a very effective vocal style that, while not bringing anything new to the table, instills the necessary sense of vengeful spite that characterizes all great Black Metal vocalists. He occasionally strays into clean, spoken word style vocals with a raspy, evil voice providing a narrative complement, as well as the odd whispering passage, with each approach used in the right place and never out staying its welcome before the main shriek returns.
Musically, Nephtys employs different Black Metal styles, ranging from sinister ambient passages to raging tremolo blasting, often going from one style to the other without pause, and it is all done with a maturity that must usually wait until two or three albums into a bands career. The drums are all programmed, an aspect which can often hurt an album, but in the case of Souviens-Toi they sound very organic. Each piece of the kit has a big sound, especially the cymbals which crash their way through each track with aplomb, nicely accenting the oft pummeling bass, and sharp snare — if you didn't know they were programmed I doubt you'd pick it, with the only clue being the straight ahead nature of the beats that have little involvement from the toms. The star of the show, as should be the case for any metal album, are the guitars, which riff away with such furious delight that you can't help but bangeth thy head even when they are setting a torturous pace. They have a full clean sound, with a very rough distortion that isn't washed out with fuzz, but they are still very much black in tone, more like a razor than the traditional Black Metal hacksaw, giving the sandpaper power chord riffing that Nephtys delivers some serious bite without subtracting from the soaring tremolo melodies that are also quite prevalent (the drawn out intro of "To the Threshold of Nothingness" is an exercise in blackened torture that perfectly demonstrates what a well produced guitar overflowing with hate can achieve). I would favourably compare Souviens-Toi to the latter output of Belenos, but minus the Celtic/folkish elements — the break-neck blasting and melodic riffing, along with the savage screeching, delivers an experience that would make Loïc proud. The acoustic guitar tone is particularly reminiscent of Belenos' style, and used to much the same effect — never driving the song, but used instead to supply the calm in the eye of the storm. That's not to say this is a copycat effort though — Souviens-Toi is of the same high caliber, from the same school, but retains its own misanthropic identity.
There are some keyboards on this album, providing some short, largely atmospheric interludes, but they constitute a much smaller part of the overall feeling than I had been lead to believe. That's not to say those moments are unnecessary or throw-away, far from it - their role is not large but instead complimentary, providing a foggy, ethereal background more often than not.
Souviens-Toi was originally recorded under the title Le Dernier Pardon with different track titles (but the same music), but was never released by their first label. Their current label, Konklav Records, picked it up and released it with all tracks renamed. The CD is pretty hard to get hold of, but if you are keen, I picked up my copy from www.ureuropa.com/catalog/
To be blunt, this is a fucking balls out, face-smashing Black Metal album, thick with atmosphere. It is the perfect music to write hate mail to. The compositions are epic in both length and scope, ebbing and flowing between the ambient and visceral, drawing into the dark world that Nephtys has crafted.
|Other related information on the site|
|Review: Souviens-toi (reviewed by Ktb)|
Interview with Epheles on August 8, 2005 (Interviewed by Chris Mitchell (Desolate Gale))
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