EP Review: Ephel Duath – On Death and Cosmos
Origin: Padova, Italy / San Francisco, USA
Release: June, 2012 (Europe) / August, 2012 (USA)
Label: Agonia Records
Genre: Progressive / Avant-garde Death Metal
So many bands have named themselves after some thing or another from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. By now it would be easy to dismiss most of them as a bunch of unoriginal bums.
Whattamistakadamake in the case of Italy’s Ephel Duath. Named after the mountains surrounding Mordor, they’ve been dealing weird sorts of Progressive “Post-Black” and Avant-garde Metal since 1998. The group started out as a two-man game and is the brainchild of guitarist Davide Tiso and has released a small stack of full-lengths since. They must’ve done something right, because through time they managed to grab the attention of bassist Steve DiGiorgio, whom we should all know from such great Metallic names as Death, Testament, Iced Earth and Autopsy, who can now be heard on the band’s latest effort, a three song EP called On Death and Cosmos.
Also on board are German-born drummer Marco Minnemann and female vocalist Karyn Crisis, also the wife of Davide Tiso and seen with him on the band pic below. Recently the group moved to Polish label Agonia Records and On Death and Cosmos is the first release to be aired through this relationship.
I have a confession to make. Recently very little Metal has been able to truly please me as so much of it used to do. On the one hand this worries me a bit, on the other only the best of the best manages to appeal to me. Ephel Duath was a name I had heard, but had no expectations whatsoever about. But, when I stuck this thing in my CD player and heard the first notes I actually felt my ears open up and my attention grow like the big old trouser snake when I think of naked women! On Death and Cosmos is highly Jazzy, freaky and original. It makes a big fat ‘fuck-you finger’ to every high school Djent outfit that dares describe itself as ‘Progressive Metal’. This is leagues ahead!
Ephel Duath combines a mild sort of Metal, with mild growling, loads of Jazz and a pinch of Black Metal atmosphere. The drumming isn’t the first thing to stand out, but taking a deeper look it is delicious. It’s almost off-beat and a-rhythmic; technical as fuck though not in the sense of speed beyond imagination. Rather than blasting his socks off, Minnemann must be counting Fibonacci patterns or something. It’s brilliant!
At the same time the guitars are only partly distorted and provide a complex myriad of melodies and riffs, all in one go. I’ve been paying attention, but I can’t discover – or at least pinpoint with certainty – more than one layer of guitar at any moment in time. There is a great interplay with the bass however, best heard on the album’s second song, Raqia. I love it! It’s simple in layering but complex in execution and a sign of true musicianship. It also means the four-man outfit with just one guitarist will be able to give away a kick-ass live show, without having to resort to tapes and shit.
I’ve searched the net for a bit in order to find you a sample of one of the three tracks, but unfortunately no dice. Agonia Records is apparently very hot on unauthorized uploading. I did, however, find a two-piece studio report with the musicians doing and explaining (and mind you, this is awesome!) their thing. Might even be more fun than hearing the actual songs. These guys are nuts!
In conclusion I can only say that On Death and Cosmos is too short. The three songs add up to just over nineteen minutes and that’s not enough. This thing tastes like more. As such, and I applaud the band’s marketing intelligence, it poses a great appetizer to the Ephel Duath’s expected 2013 album. Can’t fuckin’ wait!
My Grade: 9/10
Buy this when:
- you can’t find any good reason not to spend about 11 bucks on some incredibly intelligent Metal
- come on, get this thing already, the man has a moustache for fuck’s sake!