Mephistopheles
In Reverence of Forever EP

Well, I’m going to go ahead and say it.  I know we still have a few more months  left to this year, but I am going to go out on a limb and say it. Mephistopheles‘ new EP release,  In Reverence of Forever, is hands down my favorite metal album released this year, and quite possibly, of the last few years as well. Who knows, some other band/album may still come along to beseech these Tasmanian devils of my number one spot, but I doubt it. Honestly, the last time I was so thoroughly engrossed and enamored in an album was probably Cynic‘s Traced in Air or Spawn of Possession‘s Incurso.

 In Reverence of Forever is a must have purchase for any fan of extreme metal. The band plays a form of progressive tech-death with a nice vibe for blackened fields. The material is chaotic and punishing, as well as streamlined and stunning all at once, while delivering one of the best and most visceral vocal performances in a long time. Your ears deserve to hear this album. Culling their sound from the same pool of creativity as such acts as Gorod and Gorguts, in fact I would compare Mephistopheles‘ sound to a mixture of both bands, while forging their own unique stamp of individuality and pushing the limits of  today’s ideology of extreme metal. The band transcends beyond the parameters of what we perceive to be the standard for brutal/technical/extreme metal. They forego the trappings of the genre, letting the music twist and turn where it wants, whether the chords, riffs, and notes sound sinister or brutal or even happy is not a concern of Mephistopheles as much as a given in what you are going to have laid upon your senses.

Beginning with a sound clip intro that I refer to as “Station-11”, as the intro is nameless on the EP, “Station-11” sets up a vision of an advanced travel station/space-port. Whether this station is set in the future or even in our part of the universe, or in the past of far away galaxies is up for conjecture, but it does an interesting and effectual job of setting up the idea/feeling of interstellar travels and so much more that is to be found in the conceptual story and lyrics of vocalist Matthew Chalk. Rung out chords, tremolo picking, and rolling blasts kick things off on “Lake Morose”. The blackened riffs of guitarist, Ben Lawless, and the wonderful interplay between he and bassist, James Excell, and drummer, Sam Dowson, are clear and controlled, yet crazed with a beauty even, beheld in the movements. A beauty waiting to burst free, like the aural equivalent of a butterfly breaking free of it’s cocoon. A moment of excitement and anticipation, of adrenaline and haste. “Lake Morose” also has a strange foreboding sense of apprehension, and a fight or flight essence about it, which when paired with the lyrics, makes it all the more terrifically disturbing. The song morphs and shifts in a brutally progressive fashion, achieving an awesome menace and power, that when Chalk vehemently roars , “they will not expect to see me again, they know not what I am; I AM OLDEN, I AM POWERFUL”!, the hairs on my neck and arms tingle with excitement.

“The 11th Skywalk Travelstream” follows suit with its choppy/jagged, yet streamlined riffs of a Cynic/Atheist type of progressive death metal, with a complimenting technological type of flair in the riffs and melodies themselves. The track moves in a blackened, tech-death glory that builds up to a progressive climax at the 2:37 mark, then twists into a brutal upbeat before closing out in proggy, tech-death magnificence. We get more of that blackened tech-death in “The Orator”, eventually giving way to a punishing beatdown of double bass and simple, catchy riff progressions, accenting in a movement/melody that interplay superbly with the relentless multidimensional vocal attack. Ringing chords and blasts, quirky technical guitar runs, and drums that sound and feel  “real” and organic, propel “The Orator’ into an intimidating foray. Short, clean chants evoke a strength in the already impressive work, while the guitars meld into more sinister progressiveness before ending in an almost enlightened feel.

“R. J. Everlife” (the title character/protagonist of the EP’s story) continues the cleverly twisting and turning structured chaos that is Mephistopheles. The hooks are almost playful, just as much intrigue and upbeat in them as there is punishing brutality. The groove achieved at the  1:42 mark, from the perfect coming together of instruments and vocals is simply divine. This groove continues through much of the track before  coming back to a swirling blackened death of the most positive nature before abruptly ending. Closing out In Reverence of Forever isThe Time In Which I Astral Travel”, delivering brutally ethereal riffing around a happy/upbeat hook. The track shifts and snakes into blasting, dread fueled movements, yet morphs back into uplifting territory with quite effective spoken word coming together in borderline tech-death beauty, before morphing yet again, into a streamlined cacophony and back again. The song, as well as the entire EP can have that “everything and the kitchen sink” feel to it, but where that can be a lethal trapping for some bands, Mephistopheles avoids the pitfalls of “too much” by wielding a commanding sense of knowing what intriguing and compelling songwriting is.

As mentioned earlier, the performance and contributions by vocalist, Chalk, on  In Reverence of Forever are visceral and stunning; the lyrics weaving a tale more like a novel than any typical verse/chorus affair. The little glimpses of the mysterious R. J. Everlife’s tale we are treated to are simply fascinating, and something that would make the basis for a brilliant graphic novel. Everlife, a being capable of not only space and/or time travel, but neither  seemingly bound by the finiteness of humanity, whose job seems to be as an arbitrator regarding interplanetary problems and situations. A being who has an extremely powerful energy or “other” side that manifests itself during Everlife’s sleep cycles, of eighty years, to “finish” certain “jobs” not addressed  quite yet, often violently.

Mephistopheles is a band for true lovers of extreme metal. They are an exhilarating experience, so much more than just a great or kick ass listen. Their material speaks as a whole, every instrument and vocal phrasing playing its part in a bigger picture of soaring heights and intimate feelings. They are a band for those of us that crave something more out of the death metal genre. A genre that is reaching an age in which the same old thing just doesn’t cut it anymore, at least not for the most part. A genre that has seen far too much aping of sounds and has become bloated and overpopulated by average material. Mephistopheles is a diamond among that bloat, a golden needle in the haystack.  This is death metal of not only today, but of and for the future as well. Metal, that is of advanced perception and forward thinking, more than it is a soundtrack for an angsty teen to piss off his/her parents. (though this would admirably, still do that job too.) Metal, that put into the simplest of terms, is THE shit…

 

 

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
September 30th, 2016

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  1. Commented by: guilliame

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