Review Summary: Ephel Duath could never be accused of playing the populist card. Pain Necessary To Know may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it certainly is interesting.
Avant-garde music, in any guise, seldom presents an easy pill to swallow. There is often a certain intentionally angular and unsettling aesthetic which provides the music with part of its character. Much like a confrontational piece of art, avant-garde offerings tend to hold the listener at arms length, making them gawk at the mayhem from the outside rather than immersing them within. Italian metal maniacs Ephel Duath certainly produce music which fits this description on Pain Necessary To Know
, peddling a unique blend of free-jazz and mathcore which, while unquestionably intriguing, keeps the audience uncomfortably rapt at a safe distance. It's this uneasy emotional starkness which will either keep the listener interested and give them something to take away from the experience, or be a bit too much for them to handle for more than a couple of tracks at a time.
Dense and disjointed is Pain Necessary To Know
. This seems to be very much an intentional ploy, as there is no shortage of startling musicianship and inventive songwriting, but these interludes tend to be separated by passages of oppressive, repetitive riffing and pained screaming and shouting. Thankfully this busy, haphazard approach is counterbalanced to a degree by short-to-medium track lengths (so frequently scoffed at by the more experimentally inclined). This alone, however, is not necessarily enough to get anybody through the whole album in one listening. That's not to suggest that the album is intrinsically bad; on the contrary, it is rather good. But it seems very much a case of Ephel Duath knowing exactly what they want to achieve musically and pursuing that vision for their own edification rather than pandering to any constituency.
That's not to suggest, however, that Pain Necessary To Know
represents the tired cliché of a love-it-or-hate-it record. There are enough quirky jazz riffs, slick time signature changes and post-modern film noir atmospherics to at least offer up an album that almost anybody can appreciate musically. Unfortunately it is unlikely that many will experience any visceral enjoyment to complement that appreciation, unless you have a particular love of that strange sense of anomie which the album engenders. What Ephel Duath have created then with Pain Necessary To Know
is the sort of album that you'll dig up once in a while to play a crazy track to an uninitiated friend, but not really the sort of album that will soar to the peak of your all-time favourite list.