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Ephel Duath - "On Death And Cosmos" (CD/EP)

Ephel Duath - "On Death And Cosmos" CD/EP cover image

"On Death And Cosmos" track listing:

1. Black Prism (6:51)
2. Raqia (6:34)
3. Stardust Rain (6:18)

Reviewed by on August 2, 2012

"The three songs heard together as one package feel like the throat clearing and warm-up prior to the actual performance, which hopefully will be arriving in the form of the band’s upcoming full album."

In the same vein as bands like Unexpect, which throw convention out the window and don’t readily stick to a single style, Ephel Duath wraps up metal in a jazzy, avant-garde package. Although less schizophrenic and bizarre than earlier releases, the new “On Death and Cosmos” EP is decidedly outside the norm for what would be expected of such a black metal leaning release.

With only three songs to get its point across, “On Death and Cosmos” immediately jumps right in head first. Opening track “Black Prism” oddly starts off almost mid-riff with something that seems like it should have been building up for several minutes before hitting this point. 30 seconds in and the track feels like the four minute mark from some lost prog metal song. Fans of this sort of sound should already know to expect the unexpected, and there are the requisite sudden switches from heavy to quiet and atmospheric sprinkled throughout the tracks.

While much of the music is jagged and discordant, especially in the guitar sounds, there’s an unfortuante sense of restraint overall. It’s almost like there’s a storm of sonic fury, but it’s trapped just under the surface and isn’t being fully released. The “Raqia” track in particular seriously lacks force and punch. The vocals may be full-on extreme growls, but the music behind it doesn’t match the intensity, like the instruments are playing to an entire different tune. All the dark, jazzy, and heavy elements seem like they should be in proper order, and with names like Steve DiGiorgio and Marco Minneman involved all the instrumentation is pulled off well, but the end result just doesn’t resonate. The EP is missing some critical, unnamable piece, or perhaps it’s just a bit too jumbled up for its own good.

The three songs heard together as one package feel like the throat clearing and warm-up prior to the actual performance, which hopefully will be arriving in the form of the band’s upcoming full album. For those interested in black or extreme metal that doesn’t stick to the genre-standards, “On Death and Cosmos” may be worth checking out, but it really lacks anything to keep a listener’s attention and is unfortunately easy to tune out.

Highs: Interesting combinations of black metal with jazzy undertones.

Lows: The EP is too restrained - it's not as forceful as standard black metal, or as crazy as the really avant-garde or proggy stuff out there.

Bottom line: Ephel Duath takes black metal on a jazz trip, but the end result isn't as exciting as it could be.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)