From Agony To Transcendence

Nephren-Ka are a brutal death metal band from France, just like Creeping Fear, who I reviewed a while ago, also on Dolorem Records.  This is Nephren-Ka’s third album and the first I have heard from them.  This review is for the 9 song album, however there is a bonus edition with 2 cover songs, one of them being a Pantera cover of “Strength Beyond Strength”-that’s gotta sound killer.  The majority of the songs are titled and sung in the native French language.  “L’abomination” starts out with immediate and ferocious blasting.  Just like Creeping Fear there is a very strong Hate Eternal/Hour of Penance  influence.  Just non-stop blasting and vocals not super guttural, more of a throaty shouting/power growl.  Works quite nice, actually.  The drums are bludgeoning as well as TAF (triggered as fuck), so if you’re expecting organic sounding drums-look elsewhere.  A very cool guitar solo towards the end of the song as the tempo rarely gives you a breath.  The blasting is enough to cause your head to cave in.

“L’agonie de l’Épice” is the longest song, close to six minutes.  Starts with a bludgeoning mid-paced heaving heaviness and then right off to the races with more ferocious blasting.  The song gets back into that tight mid-paced rumbling rhythm section which works quite well, but Christ almighty those triggered double bass drums-they are over the top.  But with this style of death metal that’s usually the case.  The non-stop madness lets up at the 4.10 section when the music stops and goes into an atmospheric soundscape thematic instrumental and that’s how the song ends.  It’s a breath of fresh air to catch your breath….until “Sedition” picks you up, body slams you 1000x, then dusts you off, then proceeds to body slam you another 1000x, just to ensure your body is ravaged beyond recognition.  Nice guitar soloing going on in the middle of the song as the swirling blast, drum rolls are tied together with some nice bass guitar work-I really enjoy this section, quite a lot-a standout moment on this album.  More guitar soloing towards the end of the track as the blasting continues.  Some nicely placed growls as well.

“Sea of Sand” ends the album and is slower in nature as it starts off and is a big highlight on From Agony to Transcendence, and then the blasting comes back in.  Some killer drum rolls and then back into the slower moments.  Vocals are pretty scorching on this particular song and they saved the best song for last as this song has some cool variety to it-I wished there were many more moments like this on the rest of the album.

Nephren-Ka are super brutal death metal.  If you’re into Hate Eternal and Hour of Penance you will enjoy this.  Another band that also has that Hate Eternal sound is Japan’s Desecravity and I find them to be about the best in the bunch for this death metal style.  I would like to see Nephren-Ka maybe mix in some more mid-paced moments and concentrate on the less is more approach.  Hey I love blasting just like any other brutal death metal head, but sometimes when it’s so incessant like on From Agony To Transcendence, then some of the songs run into one another which makes it difficult to distinguish one song from the next.  The production is tight and powerful and loud-in your face type of stuff.  Overall From Agony To Transcendence is a pretty good, over the top brutal death metal album, which will piss your neighbors off if you crank this loud.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
September 21st, 2021


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