Review Summary: Dark and crushing, dense and beautiful, "Epos" is a debut you won't soon forget.
To be quite honest, I have this idea in my head that all Germans are brash, stern, and an overall a tough group of people. Growing up in an area where the descendants were almost exclusively German, it's easy to see where I would forge this idea. In viewing the people around me, I could see their gruff exteriors, and view their emotional aloofness. Yes, I will admit that these thoughts are based off of very little. However, Downfall of Gaia does little, if anything to change my perception of the German people.
You see, Downfall of Gaia sound like a bunch of tough-as-nails dudes, making some really abrasive music. And really, that's what makes their debut album, "Epos," such a treat. The album is exceptionally heavy. Although, not in the traditional sense. What makes "Epos" such an overbearingly heavy piece of music is it's incredibly dense atmosphere, coupled with an uncompromising sense of menace. Downfall of Gaia like to include "calmer" segments into their songs. Yet these are anything but calm. For even these melodic interludes feel ominous and crushing. "Epos" doesn't flow from song to song. Rather, it chugs along, moving at a very deliberate pace, with a foreboding sense of urgency. The distortion laden tracks are complimented by the wonderful, upbeat drums, and intense guitar and vocals. And I truly mean intense when describing the vocals. There's a lot of passion and energy behind each note, which melds perfectly with the rest of the music. However, the vocals do have their weak spots. Namely with the variety. There are bellowing yells, and harsh, grating screams, the latter being incredible weak and irritating. Other than those two styles, there isn't much else offered on the vocal front. It's a little disappointing, as the band as a whole is doing an outstanding job.
"Epos" is a fairly short affair, clocking in at a little over a half an hour. And with only six songs, "Epos" lacks the amount of substance one would desire. Especially considering that there is both an intro song, and an epilogue. However, what little time is here is well spent. The songs themselves range from a three minute intro, to a 10 minute epic. "Odium" and "Zerfall," the album's premier tracks, are alone worth the price of admission. The crushing segments mesh wonderfully with the more melodic and atmospheric ones. Yet it seems as if every song follows a specific formula. Heavy distorted beginning, leading into a dense yet atmospheric section. The formula works well, but I personally would have liked a little more variety.
"Epos" is an incredible first effort. It is simply hardcore bliss. Uncompromisingly heavy, yet bold and beautiful, Downfall of Gaia is a band well worth keeping an eye on.