Review Summary: Persefone complete their stylistic revamp, but sacrifice their individuality and integrity in the process.
With a population that wouldn’t fill Wembley Stadium and an economy only a fraction the worth of the richest man in the United States, Andorra is a modest little nation. When was the last time you heard of an Andorran sports star? Or a high profile Andorran business tycoon? On the surface, it seems there’s not a whole lot that Andorra as a nation can be genuinely proud of. But in the realm of music, Persefone have been flying the Andorran flag proudly for almost a decade now, which is why it saddens me to say there isn’t a whole lot remarkable about their latest offering bar the geographical location of the people who created it.
, in terms of quality, is a significant regression from the band’s previous albums. The neo-classically tinged progressive sections and harmonious dual guitar work are gone for the most part, substituted by syrupy electronics and metalcore-style chuggery. Spiritual Migration
appears to be an attempt to refine the band’s sound, but at the cost of their individuality and sense of novelty. The album starts off promisingly with “Mind as Universe”, containing some interesting riffs as well as some tasteful, atmospheric keyboard work. But at this point, the band’s stylistic direction is already very obvious. Although the metalcore elements were primarily introduced on Shin-Ken
, they are far more prominent on here. The band may throw an intricate guitar harmony at you once in a while, but said harmonies are often suffocated by monotonous chugging and even the odd breakdown, which not only sound out of place but also suffocate the progression in whichever track they appear on.
However, for all the setbacks, there is still a lot to be enjoyed here. If the band really does shine at any point on the record, it’s during the instrumental tracks, which are aided particularly well by some spotless sound engineering. “Zazen Meditation” is a beautiful little track that opens with some sampled bird singing and delicate piano work, building upon itself before fizzling out into a nebula of ambiance. The “Consciousness” two-parter is undoubtedly the highlight of the album. Organic, reverberant drum patterns and yet more excellent piano work build a dense, melancholy atmosphere, while in the second half the guitars kick in and steadily rise and fall in intensity. The instrumental tracks really do highlight the song writing proficiency of the Andorran squad, but it seems as if there’s some conscious decision to fall back on generic clichés a little too often.
The biggest issue is that the album is wildly inconsistent in terms of quality, with a mix of excellent and incredibly bland instrumentation. The vocals are particularly irritating, while the harsh vocal performance is relatively impressive, the insipid, off-key, clean singing jars with the rest of the music and routinely kills any semblance of atmosphere. When the band decides to kick things up notch, we’re often greeted with aimless, ostentatious guitar leads that leave little to no lasting impression. Many of the songs themselves are also inconsistent, initially appearing to progress quite nicely but gradually losing direction as they run on longer. The title track is the worst offender, eventually just falling apart under its own weight due to a disjointed mish-mash of ideas.
is so far the low point in Persefone’s career, and unless the band has a collective epiphany, it doesn’t appear as if things are going to get any better. The album takes the lesser aspects of Shin-Ken and amplifies them tenfold, while thinning out the better elements that the latter retained from “Core”. Sure, the band may attain some commercial success now, but at what cost? The music has been stripped of its personality. While it would be harsh to accuse Persefone of making a poor album, it is impossible to be disappointed when you consider what they’re capable of.