Epitaphe – Demo MMXVII (2018) REVIEW

This three song demo from the Rhône-Alpes of south-eastern France is a full 40 minute trip through chaotic blackened death metal by way of Epitaphe. This collective represents an extreme metal project that is as atmospherically adept as it is capably brutal within blasted-out moments. Taking cues from Adversarial and Witchrist alike, Epitaphe represent an incredibly inspired set of individuals devoted to chaotic creation and experimental extreme metal. ‘Demo MMXVII’ has some slight issues that could be fixed by mixing the album professionally, but none of the noise spikes really do much to stomp out the fiery depths of the demo. It is a strange, brutal trip that does a great job of showcasing the exceptional range of their current sound.

The first track “The Downward Stream” invokes all that made Adversarial‘s snare-clanging brutality so compelling on ‘All Idols Fall Before the Hammer’ and then builds upon it with early Portal-like experimentation as the demo continues. The second track “Embers” is slightly longer than the previous 10 minute track as it dissolves into a kaleidoscopic storm of dissonant blasts and ritualistic ambiance each time it plays. Epitaphe displays such an impressive range between those first two tracks that I’m already sold on hearing what they might be able to do with a similar full-length format and proper production value. The third track shows some nubile ambitions within death/doom that might need more careful study but they’re right on the verge of nailing it.

“Smouldering Darkness” is aptly titled in it’s slow moving doom-fueled depths. I’m not sure if it is the noisome production or ever-changing pace of the demo but Epitaphe have a knack for compositions that feel unruly and unhinged. The affect in their sound isn’t purely chaotic but the variations feel unlimited in their fractalization just short of feeling like an occult black/death/doom jam session. The third slow-churn movement is equally as, or more, impressive as the more brutally focused and experimental opening tracks. ‘Demo MMXVII’ feels truly unique for it’s treatment of atmospheric death metal and dissonant black/death informed occult instrumentation. Of course it isn’t as tightly focused as Golgothan Remains, or as atmospherically sound as Abyssal, but rather represents a medium in between that is also capable of death/doom mutations and dissonant Incantation-esque textures a la Symptom.

This should be a great surprise for fans of occult black/death and doom variations that venture outside of genre convention. Unrestrained vision is typically rare in four-piece extreme metal band, but if Epitaphe manages to continue to ‘draw outside of the lines’ we’re likely to receive some incredible rituals from them into the future. If this all sounds like a harrowing, odd mix of ideas then it should make sense with a quick listen of the first track then skip over to “Smouldering Darkness” and give it at least 10 minutes to work it’s strange magic. Highly recommended if you don’t mind the noisome demo quality of the mix.

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Artist Epitaphe
Type Album
Released January 29, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Chaos Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Epitaphe on Facebook
Genres
Death Metal, Black Metal, Death/Doom Metal

Drowning the screams. 3.5/5.0

 

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