Review Summary: Vegetarian Progressive Deathgrind at its finest.
Lykathea Aflame’s “Elvenefris” is not a piece of music. Rather, it invokes the listener on a quest, a journey for the Key. Whatever the Key is, is up to you. It could be anything, whatever is missing from your heart and soul. The identity of that object, person, or place is irrelevant. It’s the journey that matters on this album, and “Elvenefris” is intent on guiding us through this spiritual, magical, progressive, and brutal journey.
Now, like my Raintime CD, I have no idea how I happened upon this album. I could have gotten it in a drugged out, drunken stupor; an eccentric, homeless person could have given it to me on the street; or even God Himself could have placed it on my hard drive. However, after glimpsing at the band’s name and checking them out on metal-archives.com, I knew I had something special when I saw they had an average rating of 97% among 14 reviewers. I was convinced a divine spirit must have placed this piece of artwork in my possession, and I imagine the conversation went something like this:
Spirit: “Check this *** out. It’s mentally gay.”
Me: “What does that mean?”
Spirit: “It will blow your mind”
Musically, the album is one of the best metal albums created. Technical, brutal, progressive, atmospheric, I could give a veritable laundry list of adjectives to describe this album, but the best one would be: amazing. The Czech Republic band clearly shows their eastern influences throughout the album. With the opening lick to “Land Where Sympathy is Air” to the riff on “On the Way Home”, the album is chock full of punishing, brutal, and at many points soothing guitar riffs. There are no solos on this album, but that doesn’t take away from the listener’s enjoyment.
The clear highlight on this album, however, is Tomas Corn, the band’s drummer. With the ability to play extreme blast beats and complicated jazzy drum sections (such as the break in “Land Where Sympathy…” just listening to Corn play is in itself an adventure. Being a Deathgrind band, the trashcan snare is expected, but while most people might hate that sound, it works for this album. The snare only adds to the brutality of the heavier parts, and doesn’t take away from the softer, progressive sections. Corn is simply inhuman.
Petr Tománek handles the vocals on this album, and they range from the standard brutal death growls to clean singing. While his clean vocals don’t get as high as other metal vocalists, he doesn’t need to do so. While the death growls dominate the album, his clean vocals do show throughout the album, ranging from just speaking clearly to actual singing. While the vocals express brutality, the lyrics are actually a reflection of one’s journey towards salvation. While this is not common in death metal, as many bands refer to abstract themes, this band’s lyrical content is something to be studied. This is difficult with the frog-like vocals obscuring the words, but sometimes you can tell what he is saying.
Like always with metal, the bass is left behind. Due to the somewhat poor production, the bass has limited use on this album, though I suspect if it were removed, we would notice. Despite the production, there are multiple bass drops and instances where the bass can be heard. The bass intro to “To Become Shelter and Salvation” is pretty sweet, and there are some other bass interludes throughout the album, but not very many.
The final track, “Walking in the Garden of Ma’at” is the most atmospheric song on the album, as well as the softest. Simply put, it’s eleven minutes of birds chirping, with a synthesizer playing. Most fans of metal will probably stay away from this song because it doesn’t have much to offer, and I think it’s a little too long, but a great end to a punishing journey through music.
All the songs are great, but the highlights of this album include “Land Where Sympathy is Air”; “Bringer of Elvenefris Flame” which has a fantastic main riff, “To Give”, ….
God damn it. The whole album is a highlight. Many consider this one of the best metal albums ever created, if not the best, and I have to agree with that line of thinking. There is not one boring moment on this album. The mix of punishing death growls, frantic, yet technical drumming, and chaotic guitar riffs make for an enjoyable music experience. This album is a diamond among a sea of horse excrement. Metal fans who don’t particularly like technical death or brutal death will probably not like this album, which is a shame because it’s definitely an album worth hearing.
An A+ in my book, the band give the perfect fusion of Deathgrind with progressive elements. As someone who can’t stand songs longer than five minutes, I found myself drawn to the heavy, experimental, and brutal riffage even through the nine minute “Old Man and a Child.” Definitely check this out if you haven’t already.