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Ephel Duath - "Through My Dogs Eyes" (CD)

Ephel Duath - "Through My Dogs Eyes" CD cover image

"Through My Dogs Eyes" track listing:

1. Gift (2:27)
2. Promenade (3:33)
3. Breed (3:28)
4. Silent Door (2:48)
5. Bella Morte (2:24)
6. Nina (4:27)
7. Guardian (3:20)
8. Spider Shaped Leaves (4:56)
9. Bark Loud (4:55)

Reviewed by on January 31, 2009

"There are flashes of brilliance, and moments when all the pieces seem to fall into place, but “Through My Dog's Eyes” is not an easy album to become attached to."

Ephel Duath, the brainchild of founding member/guitarist Davide Tiso, has made a career out of taking what is perceived to be metal and turning it on its head. By fusing jazz, electronica, and whatever else the band can get their hands on, Ephel Duath has crafted an avant-garde sound that has captivated a selected section of the metal community. After a four-year wait, Ephel Duath returns with the concept album “Through My Dog's Eyes,” which describes the sights and sounds from the perspective of a canine. Like their previous albums, “Through My Dog's Eyes” is a hypnotic and strange trek that will no doubt leave the listener either enthralled, flabbergasted or a combination of the two.

For a concept album to work with such a non-linear idea, the band has to be confident and willing to stick with it to the very end. Ephel Duath does a commendable job in this aspect. Tiso’s passion towards the subject matter is immediately apparent from the opening track, “Gift.” A heart-warming tale of a dog’s precious gift to his master, a decomposing cat, the song has a southern-rock feel to it, a characteristic that comes into play several times on “Through My Dog's Eyes." Tiso pulls out the slide guitar on closing instrumental “Bark Loud,” featuring electronics performed by Dillinger Escape Plan guitarist Ben Weinman, and “Guardian.”

In “Through My Dog's Eyes,” Tiso introduces the idea of the owner/pet relationship, a dynamic that compares the complexity of human emotions to the narrow-minded, yet innocent, mindset of a dog. “Promenade” has two distinct stories behind it; on the one end, the song is about a walk in the park, something the dog seems to enjoy; on the other hand, the song is a deep look at the growing depression and frustration of a man wanting more in life, a chance to be as happy as his dog is. “Nina” relies upon the same dual storyline; to the dog, the title character is a woman with “a nice voice” who gives treats; to the human, she is nothing but a forgotten memory, somebody that he has conflicted feelings towards.

Unlike previous albums, “Through My Dog's Eyes” is more stable musically. The album doesn’t go off into random tangents or signature time-changes every ten seconds. Ephel Duath is better off with this smoother direction, as the concept comes off better with the subtle, yet deadly, attack Tiso and company follow suit with.

To help with this new direction, Tiso enlisted the help of drummer Marco Minnemann, a successful solo musician who has also played with Paul Gilbert and Necrophagist. His work on “Through My Dog's Eyes” is complex and tight, making full use of the entire kit, with drum patterns that are wild and unpredictable. In his last recorded effort with Ephel Duath, vocalist Luciano George Lorusso puts in an inspired performance, a major factor in maintaining the illusion of a dog’s worries, fears, and joyful outlook on the simple things in life.

“Through My Dog's Eyes” is an album that will cause lively debates, most of them stemming from the album's plot line and Ephel Duath toning the craziness down a bit. The concept comes off fine, but the short running length and the tendency for some tracks to meander along with no clear direction hinders the album a bit. There are flashes of brilliance, and moments when all the pieces seem to fall into place, but “Through My Dog's Eyes” is not an easy album to become attached to. While not for everybody, “Through My Dog's Eyes” is a thought-provoking album that, while flawed, showcases a band willing to be creative in a genre where that well has long been tapped.

Highs: A unique concept, superb drumming, solid vocals

Lows: Short running length, concept may go over many people's heads, a tough album to get into initially

Bottom line: A complex journey that will resonate with a select group of metal fans.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

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)