Review Summary: A triumphant update of an amazing debut.
There’s an undeniable charm to Truth Inside the Shades
. In crafting their debut, Persefone didn’t quite get everything right the first time; their influences were on full display, the arrangements lacked the conciseness that would emerge on Core
, and the overall output was a bit too thin considering all the elements at play. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, the album possessed undisputable appeal inside its melodic death metal riffs and progressive leanings. The production was endearing in its own manner as it imitated the minimalistic approach of classic records. Attempting to change anything about the effort would certainly call for caution for fear of ruining such aspects. Hindsight is inevitable, but artists only infrequently return to their prior works, instead utilizing the 20/20 vision of history to forge ahead. When deluxe, remastered or special editions appear, critics are quick to call out a disingenuous cash grab attempt, truthfulness be damned. Van Gogh never scrapped an original—why should anyone else, lest the canvas be spoiled?
If anyone were to defy expectations, it would have to be the obscure Andorran gentlemen who have done just that for almost twenty years.
Perhaps always having known the imperfections of their initial foray, whether intended or embraced as enjoyable mistakes, the intrepid collective decided to take a step back from their modern career and warp backwards. Never mind any reservations over whether or not the beauty of the first Truth
would be respected or not; this is, after all, a group that adamantly adheres to their trademark guitar tone throughout each iteration of their sound. Compromise has been alien to Persefone since conception, and this stance holds true as they return to their humble beginnings. While the band commits to an expanded production—the grand, powerful resonance and pristine polish of Aathma
takes hold of the reins—the aesthetic of the debut maintains its presence. Though much more bombastic, the compositional assets inherent to the disc are not tampered with. This is unmistakably the same Truth
that captivated in 2004. Using their years of experience as a guide, Persefone approaches this anniversary rerecording with care, offering only improvements to an already superb LP.
From the simple addition of a grandiose production, addicting riffs now transform into absolute behemoths to reckon with, their already engaging quality now buttressed by sufficient weight. The tonality of the keyboard, however, likely benefits the most from these rerecording sessions; the distinctive instrument, long a cornerstone of Persefone’s identity, has been reinforced enormously in comparison to the primary work. Hearing the commanding launch of “The Whisper of Men” ring out with such confidence is fascinating to behold, and it’s due in no small part to the memorable synth line being belted out proudly, immediately sparking the energetic number. In the instance of the title track, the supporting choir element and strings are brought higher into the foreground, their contributions merging with the guitars to form a massive wall of sound. As a consequence of the keys gaining more ground, the quieter sections of tunes become enhanced, the ethereal quality augmented as the graceful piano notes stand even with tranquil acoustics, the more Opethian characteristics of Persefone’s early output shining brightly. Although the sprawling landscape opened up by the production increases the volume immensely, no members are lost in the transition—a welcome constant from the prominent bass contributions laid on the inaugural effort. The attendance of the instrument has been noticeably diminished, unfortunately, yet its existence is consistently felt, either weaving in between various segments of “The Whisper of Men” or urging forth the bouncing riff conjured in “Niflheim.” Rather than enjoying Truth
from a distance, appreciating the youthful creativity of the group’s nascent songwriting, the positives that defined the disc are highlighted in equal measure so as to perfectly induce headbanging sessions.
The further alterations that the band include are similarly useful in refining the collective’s compositions. Aforementioned interludes in songs are revisited in order to make their inclusion feel more purposeful, the conversions between separate motifs becoming less jarring. Throughout the record, progressive metal concepts are given the same treatment, with each motion into a different portion of a track crafted seamlessly. This is exhibited primarily on the various shifts incorporated into the melodic death metal hybrid “Niflheim.” Rather than awkwardly collapsing into the clean vocal performance that emerges during the introductory half of the entry, the tempo changes in anticipation, an impressive percussion performance guiding the track as it bursts into the singing, the break now made anthemic by the multitude of components placed around it. Branching off of the improved keys, the solo that erupts later in the song is announced impeccably, exploding in uplifting tones and continuing onwards from the groundwork laid down for it. Recreating moments such as these by smoothing over the creases tightens the structuring of tunes that may have ordinarily wandered off. The incredible musicianship demonstrated on “Atemporal Divinity” elegantly switches from bridging sections to enthralling solos, each new foray connected to the other with purpose, the interplay between the several members uniting faultlessly. Emphasizing cohesion assists in erasing the more sporadic nature of the outfit as they attempted to locate their individuality.
Of all modifications made, however, the most impactful is arguably the harsh performance delivered by Marc Martins. While the vocalist has partially defined Persefone’s sound across their discography, he did not join the band until their opus Core
, with longtime guitarist Carlos Lozano handling the job for the group’s first release. In approaching the novel version of Truth
, Martins offers a new perspective on the music; he declines to repeat the original routine and implements a fresh interpretation of the material. Hearing his distinguishing lows and visceral highs on back catalogue songs is wonderful to experience, doing further justification for the rerecorded album’s existence and the benefits it brings. The lower register Martins possess particularly diversifies proceedings. Following in kind is an advancement of the backing vocal department occasionally featured in softer pieces, highlighting the development of the crew’s overall singing output, which continues to mature within the LP.
Conversely, what elicits the most emotion is a comparatively minor adjustment. The album traditionally closed with a guitar strumming along, repeating the instrumental refrain to “The Demise of Oblivion.” On the rerecorded edition of the song, the piano returns, harkening back to introductory number “My Unwithered Shrine.” The subtle grace injected by the keys cements the journey the disc embarks upon over its 42-minute duration and, as an extension, the long adventure Persefone have undertaken during their career. A modest foundation has been affectionately revisited so that it is not only upgraded in mostly every regard, but it is done so in a manner that respects the source content, paying homage to the influences that initially inspired it. Flourishing progressive musicianship, encouraged in the past by the intricacies of Symphony X and their guitar playing, now glows vividly in a production that heightens all instruments and a songwriting methodology that eases transitions. Those same melodies, once attributed to the glory days of In Flames and the eternal Dark Tranquility, sound livelier than ever, with new life breathed into the keys and the cathartic solos. The charm that enticed listeners who happened upon Truth
retains its position at the heart of the release. Persefone have handled their debut with careful consideration given to what succeeded and what could be amended, yet they managed to do so without trampling over the spirit of the original. As much as it is a love letter to fans, this renewed perspective on Truth Inside the Shades
is the band’s love letter to their history—a testament to their progress and veneration for their roots. Pulling such a delicate balance is a feat the Andorran gentlemen do easily. Gazing over their body of work, it’s not so surprising they succeeded.