Published on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 17:13
Album title: Ecnephias
Release date: 16th February 2015
Label: My Kingdom Music
01. Here Begins The Chaos (Intro)
02. The Firewalker
CHAPTER I: A DARK DREAM IN CHILDHOOD
03. A Field Of Flowers
04. Born To Kill And Suffer
CHAPTER II: UNDERGROUND LIFE
06. The Criminal
CHAPTER III: BLACK MAGIC ON THE SEA OF CEFALU (A MEETING WITH A CROWLEY)
08. Lord Of The Stars
09. Wind Of Doom
CHAPTER IV: THE SOUTHERN PAGAN RITES
11. Nia Nia Nia
12. Vipra Negra
13. Satiriasi (Outro)
The story of Italian band Ecnephias started back in 1996 and since then this ensemble with their four albums and some EP's reached a cult status in the Italian and as well in European metal underground. Now, the five-piece group from Potenza, the city in Southern Italy, is back with their seminal self-titled album, an album that commemorates ten years since their first official release. The band which gained the status of one of the most promising bands in the extreme metal sector has developed their sound from album to album, and if their previous album, Necrogod, released in 2013, marked the departure from their origins in black metal by inserting more and more melodic dark metal sound spiced up with traditional heavy, gothic and death metal elements, the new album is almost a complete departure from their extreme metal past and a real milestone in their career. Still there was always something special in Ecnephias sound, kind of a mediteranean touch brought into surface by a sinister occult character weighting through their compositions, and this very thing that made their sound often very atmospheric and even dramatic is present now more than ever.
Ecnephias is one hell of a compositional structure, eleven tracks plus an intro and outro, very well divided in four parts, and showing the most matured, deep, atmospheric and spirited work so far they ever did. I know, on the first listen it might sound just like a hybrid between Moonspell's Antidote, Darkness And Hope, Omega White,... and Rotting Christ's A Dead Poem, Sleep Of The Angels,..., especially because of Mancans versatile vocal range that goes from charming romantic baritone to a bit more extreme harsh voice and how it's integrated into the whole palette of sounds sometimes reminds to Crematory in their Awake era. But Ecnephias are much more and this can be discovered once you'll get confortable with those songs and addicted by the magical atmospheric sound. This album takes you on a journey, it undulates nicely, from the powerful, yet catchy "The Firewalker" on the listener gets engulfed in this maelstrom of gothic and dark metal with various variations. The compositions are often based on ear friendly melodies and gloomy ambiances converged in a best possible way, just listen how warm and at the same time creepy is "A field Of Flowers", how magical are those gothy spherical keys and what kind of intriguing riffs and leads the two guitars produce. I must point out as well the satisfactory rhythmic line, especially the drum patterns are very efficient and keep the pace in a marvelous way. The song structures are dynamic and there's no space to get bored, rather than that you'll never know when Ecnephias will insert an element that is so unpredictable and I can't find a thing that is not in the right place, for example what a surprise is the semi acoustic folkish "Nia Nia Nia" sangt in their regional dialect, or the trifle with dark electronics, piano and ambiental sounds in the outro named "Satiriasi", to point out just a couple of things.
But there's much more, a lot more, for example the powerful and nicely flowing "Chimera" with traditional heavy metal charge and alike to Paradise Lost drive, then the sombre and almost overly dramatic "Tonight" with fantastic captivating riffs all over. The very next, "Lord Of The Stars" is one of those stand out tracks that with its broadening soundscapes, gothy divergent keys, marvelous guitars that could be even compared to something taken from My Dying Bride on some occasions, add here as well kind of a mystic ambiance reached with vocals and you'll feel shivers down the spine, and it's nothing different with the doomy "Wind Of Doom", or one of my personal favourites - the epic gothic metal masterpiece "Nyctophilia" with moonspellian riff and clean vocals that are just like being sung by Mr. Ribeiro, but I don't think that the bands mastermind Mancan is burdened with this, he rather strives for what he likes and he does the job more than good. The last proper track is now well known first single from the album, the lush and catchy "Vipra Negra" which in general shows the main orientation of new Ecnephias.
Maybe the album suffers a bit because of a lack of originality, but I don't mind that as the final output is more than just good, still it brings many fresh and unique things, I can even say that they develop further what all those masters of dark and gothic metal with Portuguese Moonspell on front did so far and it's absolutely without discussion the best one Ecnephias ever did. Everything is as well perfectly produced, mixed and mastered, just to let the listener with ease explore the sensory dimension that the album offers. What we got is an album that is from many aspects one of the best dark/gothic metal albums ever released in Italy and people at My Kingdom Music had a lucky hand when they took this band under their roof. If this is the start of new era for Ecnephias then I'm more than sure that very soon they will play a very important role in the European gothic metal as they don't have anything to hide before all those big names that are dominant on the scene right now. Good job Ecnephias!
Review written by: T.V.