Review Summary: Persefone manages to make their sound much more interesting and dynamic, but they don’t do a whole lot to refine it.
Any experienced Persefone fan first listening to Shin-Ken
will notice right away that not much has changed since the album’s 2006 predecessor, Core
. The band still maintains their progressive influenced melodic death metal style while playing around with calming passages and winding instrumentals. Like Core
is a concept album revolving around the Japanese samurai and their devotion to bushido (Japanese for “honor”), life on the battlefield, and the experience of death.
Gone are the accompanying female vocals that were integral to the storyline of Core
. Instead, Persefone experiments much more with different styles of vocal delivery, often contrasting Marc Pia’s death growls with higher pitched screaming, which weren’t very prevalent on Core
. There is also a much greater use of clean vocals, sung in the same charming accent that graced Core
. The album begins with the tranquil ambience of “The Ground Book,” which serves as a sort of calm before the storm, as things quickly decrescendo into the beginning of “Fall to Rise.” Within a matter of seconds, the theme of the album truly becomes apparent, and the track stands out as one of the best due to its highly tasteful use of a Japanese sitar, probably a shamisen, which is also featured in the next track, "Death Before Dishonour." The various “Book” tracks that dot the album are also a real highlight to the album, providing a stark and beautiful contrast to the heavy songs, as well as a much welcome break in the mood and style of the album.
takes more of an old school Dream Theater approach to songwriting, including more direct song structures, wandering instrumentals, and guitar and keyboard solos. This seems to help Persefone a lot because it gives much more variety to their music. While Core
more or less wrote one really great song and turned it into an hour long epic, Shin-Ken
focuses more on telling its story from multiple angles not only through the lyrics, but through songs of varying time signatures, tempos, and keys.
All in all, Shin-Ken
is a fantastic record, and while Persefone manages to make their sound much more interesting and dynamic, they don’t do a whole lot to refine it. The album cuts down on some of the repetition that formed my only complaint of Core
and, more or less, delivers more of the same progressive and melodic twists on death metal as always. Although the album does everything right as far as music goes, there doesn’t seem to be much evolution from the band as writers or musicians. However, the music makes this fact negligible since Persefone has written some great songs and truly lives up to their expectations. All that remains to be seen is if they can live up to their potential.
More individual melodies than on Core
Japanese sitar in “Fall to Rise” and "Death Before Dishonour"
The lyrics can be hard to understand
The band has not significantly improved
Fall to Rise
The Water Book