Five years ago Ontario technical/progressive melodic death metal band Æpoch were readily professional on their 2013 promotional demo having aimed loosely at later-era Death and popular technical death metal not too far removed from Capharnaum but with hints of Vektor peeking through occasionally. It’d be fair to say that their approach hasn’t changed drastically but their shift away from Cynic style alternate picking towards melodic death metal began on their 2015 EP ‘Æpochalypse’ which was largely reworked version of their promo. Any group capable of a decent cover of ‘Crystal Mountain’ is worth some attention and a guest appearance from one of Bloodshot Dawn‘s original guitarists drew some attention towards the tech-prog-melodeath crowd. Upon returning to the EP the song “Ouroboros Broken” was likely the biggest hint at where the band would go next with their sound.
It feels like a rough thing to suggest, since the two bands are about to embark on an intensive tour across Canada together, but Æpoch have succeeded where Bloodshot Dawn more or less failed on ‘Reanimation’ combining elements of progressive metal, melodic death metal, and thrash metal while incorporating a boatload of shredding and solos. The clanking virtuosity of the bass performances on ‘Awakening Inception’ go a long way to help establish a signature sound for Æpoch, something they’d been missing as they’d come across like too much of an early 90’s prog-death clone beforehand. That inspiration isn’t lost, though, and seems to be even more vital as they enter the fray with technical/melodic death metal hybrids that generally lack riffs (Allegaeon) instead of working off the accomplishments of albums like Martyr‘s ‘Hopeless Hopes’ and Anata‘s later releases. Thankfully Æpoch are, for the most part, on the right side of riffs in 2018.
As a debut full-length from an independent band on the rise ‘Awakening Inception’ gets a couple of passes just for being new. The tracklist is heavily front-loaded with interest as the first 4-5 tracks keep the gears shifting constantly. Then it seems Æpoch ran out of steam, and ideas. The melodeath riffs, modern thrash, wailing solos, and faster tempos are so concentrated in the first half that all we’re left with on the second half is mid-paced mosh riffs and honestly quite generic filler. It all goes a bit stale beyond “Mentally Raped by Christ”. None of it is offensive, though, and my issue is more with redundancy than anything else. A progressive metal album shouldn’t drown in it’s own variations for the sake of being appropriately long and ‘epic’. I do question why the melodic death and Vektor-like thrash moments didn’t inform the second half of the record as much as the first.
For a debut this is more than enough of a strong establishment of style for a promising independent project. The bass tone adds great interest and the shredding is world class high-speed misanthropy throughout. I’d only request clipping off the chugs and focusing on strengthening their mid-paced riff game towards something more imaginative. No doubt melo-tech death metal heads will feel stronger about this album’s virtues than I, but as a fan of 90’s prog-death and melodeath variations this was a strong first showing on most all counts.
|Released||April 13, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Æpoch on Facebook|
Technical Death Metal,
Progressive Death Metal
Terror piercing through. 3.5/5.0
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