Epicurean
V.II R.VI

I specifically chose to review this on the heels of the recent Veneficum offering, as they both offer synth laden efforts of melodic black metal from the US, and while Veneficum essentially get it all right, Minnesota’s Epicurean are bright eyed and full of promise with some issues to fix before they can compete on home soil, let alone with the Europeans.

First, I’d like to be completely unprofessional and empty my testosterone filled nads by mentioning super hot bassist Angelia. I have a thing for blonds (if metal doesn’t work out for you, give me a call). OK, that’s out the way-the music. Epicurean are ambitious if anything, mixing all kinds of acoustics, clean vocals, keyboard breaks and textures into their debut album, that if anything certainly shows some balls to simply not fall in line and be as brutal as possible, but with sloppy drumming and a strange sound mix, the end result comes across as slightly amateurish despite some nice song writing and structures. Song wise, Epicurean are above average, with a nice melodic, progressive edge to some of their sweeping black metal that’s not to far removed from Danes Compos Mentis but lacking some edge. The album often seems to be too ‘nice’ while at the same time wanting to be black metal in scope. That being said, their ‘nice’ side is full of colorful riffs and epic solos worthy of some attention.

I gather there has been some lineup shuffling since the recording of this album, but for this album keyboardist Maelstrom performed the vocals, and it’s a good thing he’s now solely responsible for keys as new singer John Laramy can only be an improvement and might add some vitriol to Maelstrom’s flat delivery. The clean vocals courtesy of drummer John Gensmer are adequate and not so run of the mill, in fact having some unique character. Guitarists Rob Nesco and Lance Vien could be tighter, but they make up for that with some well crafted riffs and solos, if rendered slightly messily.

After the obligatory intro, ‘Deviance of Horror’, that conveys neither deviance nor horror, Epicurean open tentatively with ‘Channeling Divine Creation’ before finding a comfort level with a more epic twist of the chorus that seems more natural to Epicurean than the more mid-paced technicality. ‘Demise: The Shattered Soul’, despite its cliched chorus is enjoyable and features the first eyebrow raising solos and tempo change that hints at Epicurean’s ability when they set their feet and just play. The empty production is only highlighted during the intro of ‘The Dying of the Light’, as the guitars are flat and sound like they were recorded in a Minnesota snowstorm. However, just as I feel the need to rip the band for the above flaws they sucker punch me with a tasty break or riff, just enough to belay my cruel words and listen a little more. The ending solo and clean breaks of ‘The Dying of the Light’ are a perfect example. Still, Epicurean need to hone their sound, as they come across as rather tame, even with blast beats and rasped vocals, they just seem slightly reticent and lifeless compared to their peers. The song title ‘The Irreparable Loss of Sons’ hints at a deep loss and tragedy, but the song itself delivers no such ambience, instead a peppy upbeat melodic trot within its chorus, plus it really highlights some of the sloppy drumming with its slower pace.

As the album wanes on, the highlights lessen, with only the weaving melody of ‘Ceremonies of the Moon’ (almost ruined by a strangely off key clean vocal break) warranting due attention, but at six minutes wears out its welcome. With four characterless instrumentals scattered about the 12 songs, the album tests you fast forward button. The lineup has changed considerably since this album was recorded, and hopefully the puzzle has all the right pieces in place allowing Epicurean to reach some potential that’s pretty well buried.

Not really a bad album per say, just an album that seems slightly awkward and nondescript. There is some potential though, and I hope Epicurean outlive their growing pains as the US could use more bands of this style.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
October 14th, 2003

Comments

Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. All post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and need to be manually approved (so don't wonder about the delay). We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Kiova - Empty Fields and Smoke-Filled Skies EP
  • Mors Principium Est - Seven
  • Eternal Champion - Ravening Iron
  • Angerot - The Divine Apostate
  • Carnation - Where Death Lies
  • My Dying Bride - Macabre Cabaret EP
  • Witchtrap - Evil Strikes Again
  • Décembre Noir - The Renaissance of Hope
  • Ossuary Anex - Obscurantism Apogee
  • Killer Be Killed - Reluctant Hero
  • Stormkeep - Galdrum EP
  • Atrae Bilis - Divinihility EP
  • Draconian - Under a Godless Veil
  • TON - Ashes Where They Stood
  • Furies - Fortune’s Gate