Ephel Duath - Hemmed by Darkness, Shaped by Light (2013)
Review by Trevor Proctor
Hailing from Padova in Northern Italy, Ephel Duath are pioneers of Italian progressive metal, their music is a bizarre blend of many different influences including avante garde, progressive rock and metal. This is their first full length release since their 2009 album “Through My Dog’s Eyes” apart from last year’s EP “On Death and Cosmos.” Eccentric musician Davide Tiso is the only original member, with this line up being constructed mainly with members joining post 2011, the most interesting addition being Tiso’s wife, Karyn Crysis, to assume vocal duties.
Musically this album is quite a listen with many diverse highlights but I must admit I struggle with Karyn’s vocal style; at times her vocal performance feels strained and even painful as she meanders between shouts, growls and attempted cleaner signing.
Opener “Feathers Under My Skin” is an example, it starts with most promising guitar work accompanied by basic but effective jazz style drumming – even to begin with the gruff, growled vocals are listenable but when Crysis shifts from growling to shouting for me it starts to detract from the music. Her vocals at times take over this track, but not to good effect. There are excellent segments of music but Krysis’ vocals just do not match the standard of the music, listen after listen prompts more musical discoveries in the complexity of their music but unfortunately do not do anything to improve my enjoyment of the vocals.
The third track, “When mind escapes flesh” is another musical highlight its midpoint breakdown and subsequent guitar work/solo are musical genius executed very, very well. However, this musical journey is abruptly disturbed when the vocals return and Crysis resumes her screaming duties.
“Within This Soil” again features some phenomenal guitar work and solos throughout its duration, in fact, you’ll find this to be the case during the entire album – musically it’s a phenomenal, varied, exciting journey, but I think you know how I feel about the vocals and shouldn’t have to finish this sentence…
No doubt many of you will think “He just doesn’t get it” but believe me I don’t criticise music without giving it the attention it deserves and admit that I’ve often been duped by excellent records on first listen only to admit it’s excellence after subsequent listens. Musically this has been the case with “Hemmed by…” as listen after listen reveals more musical genius/madness but Karyn’s vocals didn’t “grow on me” in any way – at times growls are effective and well placed but unfortunately more often than not they sound forced and disjointed. Vocal style aside this is a great album and definitely worth a listen due to the high levels of musicianship.
2.Tracing The Path of Blood
3.When Mind Escapes Flesh
4.Within This Soil
5.Those Gates to Nothing
6.Through Flames I Shield
7.Hemmed By Light
8.Shaped By Darkness
Hemmed by Light, Shaped by Darkness is released by Agonia Records on November 26th.