Memento Mori

One of the things I love about this reviewing gig is being completely blindsided by a new young act. Sure, you get to hear new Nile albums early and the occasional guest passes, but when a bright eyed young band has poured all their money and energy into a self released CD, send it to you  and put it out there for criticism, and it ends up being brilliant, and that’s pretty rewarding for everyone involved.

Such is the case with France’s Aephanemer (a merging of French words for ‘ephemeral’ and ‘folded’), and their first full length self released album, following up a 2014 EP, Know Thyself. And know Thyself is apt for these guys as they wear their influence on their sleeves hard and heavy. Though French, Aephenamer could be mistaken from being from Finland with a heavy Children of Bodom, Omnium Gatherum, and Kalmah  influence, but with a little more restraint and melancholy.

This is super catchy, heavily orchestrated, solo heavy melodic death metal. Other influences you can hear are the obvious In FlamesDark Tranquillity, Arch Enemy riffs and like fellow French melo-death act Pictured there is hues of acts like LothlorienAuberon and Ebony Tears.

Lead guitarist and remaining founding member Martin Hamiche clearly loves the first 4 Children of Bodom albums, but delivers the sound with a bit more restraint and control with a largely mid paced approach and longer, more developed songs ( think “The Groan of Wind” from Kalmah’s The Black Waltz).The front and center synths are gorgeous, delivering ample strings and brass to the proceedings, so much so, this would be an album I would love to see performed with a live orchestra. The vocals of Marion Bascoul (a new addition after the instrumental EP)  are a simple, mid range, witchy rasp and neither too distracting or overbearing, they are just right. And even her little used clean vocals (“The Oathsworn”, “Call of the Wild”, “Memento Mori”) are a little different.

The end result is a simply killer album that kept my attention from start to finish. Opener “Unstoppable” has a pleasant mid paced gait before second track “Sisyphus’ Bliss” delivers a really Bodom influenced, standout  number. “Hellebore” ups the tempo a bit and has some excellent shredding. The formula never really strays too far other than minute long interlude “Ghosts” and closer “Gilgamesh”, an instrumental throwback to the debut EP, but each track (especially the keyboards and leads) just hooks you in and keeps you invested despite the relative repetition and longer length. Just listen to the piano break in “Call of the Wild” and its subsequent epic trot, and tell me that isn’t good stuff.

The very definition of a ‘pleasant surprise’, Momento Mori is sure to end up on my year end list somehow. Not only is it an invigorating take on a sound thought long dead, it’s a damn addictive, fun release that shows there are good young bands out there willing to play what they want and mot pander to popular genres or fads. Bravo.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 23rd, 2016


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