Review Summary: Aephanemer’s third full-length is a slower but no less ambitious effort than their previous albums.
Hailing from Toulouse, France, Aephanemer are a symphonic melodeath band that take the genre into a refreshing if not entirely new dimension. Beginning as a basic melodeath set on their first album Momento Mori
before crafting their own niche in Prokopton
, A Dream of Wilderness
continues their epic saga.
Creating such unique albums requires unique circumstances. Aephanemer consist of a four person team of two men and two women (hail equality!) with frontwoman Marion Bascoul performing all harsh vocals on top of keeping pace on the rhythm guitar, Martin Hamiche delivering rampant licks on lead, Lucie Woaye Hune backing up on the bass, and Mikael Bonnevialle deploying well-timed fills amongst the harmonious chaos.
The first aspect upon plugging in A Dream of Wilderness
one notices is the generally slower tempos of the songs compared to their sophomore Prokopton
. While by no means testudified, the more laid back speed of most of the songs lends a less layered explosion of sounds in turn for more depth of atmosphere. Whether such a change marks an increase or decline of quality is a matter of personal debate, but by no means causes the album to lack for virtuosity.
Bascoul’s growls are absolutely vicious. They could best be described as unfettered snarls from some deranged forest beast, almost literally tearing out the vocal sections on each song they’re employed. You’d hardly think this mild-mannered, thickly French-accented woman capable of producing such sounds based on her interviews. They get so deep and gravelly at times you’d swear she was a man, with portions on songs such as Antigone
and Le Radeau de La Méduse
'Medusa’s Raft' arcing into a perfect black metal banshee shriek. Certainly a top three contender if not just the outright best lady growler in all of metallia. A Dream of Wilderness
even debuts her cleans, pleasant but not quite so polished as her growls despite adding another layer to their already saturated compositions.
Guitars and symphonic elements are generally well done, combining a more light-hearted early Equilibrium energy with typical melodeath elements. Strider
and the title track are powerful epics, while Panta Rhei
sounds like a more polished offshoot of something that originally belonged on Prokopton
. Roots and Leaves
is pure key-driven cheese, with Of Volition
being a more generic offering of what they’ve always created. But the stars are certainly the previously mentioned Antigone
and Le Rideau
strongarms the aural senses with its potent chorus and epic dual-voxed finale, while Le Rideau de La Méduse
is the most condensely packed of the bunch, striving for an even greater crescendo. Listen to the bonus French language version for even better immersion.
Finally Aephanemer love their instrumentals, this album featuring a total of three uniques including the bonus cover of Tchaikovsky’s Old French Song
, to say nothing of their tradition of releasing their entire albums' instrumental mixes. Land of Hope
is a generic Ensiferum-esque instrumental track, lofty but not really adding anything before drifting off into the intense Antigone
. Vague a l’Âme
, ‘Melancholy’ (lit. Tide of the Soul) is a more epic minute and a half instrumental a la Arch Enemy, setting the tone for the last third of the album and sliding into the beginning of Strider
quite nicely. And then of course the extremely upbeat melodeath cover of Old French Song
closes the album on a high note for anyone who could (and most definitely should) acquire the bonus disk version.
Basically this shit’s awesome and demands a high spot in any symphonic or melodeath lover’s collection.