Posted by Nick Skog on Monday, March 10, 2014 Under: Album Reviews
From: Black Phoenix Rising Forums
Published: March 9, 2014
In all honesty, I became hugely interested in Epitimia just from hearing the few taster tracks from this album on Hypnotic Dirge's Bandcamp page a few months back. With just those few tracks, and from the description of what was promised from this extremely ambitious double album, I knew something special was on its way here. I wasn't disappointed either, what we have here is something both special and unique, something which transcends whatever boundaries we place around genres and music in general and simply exists as pure music and art. In today's world where so many things which should be great, music especially, are reduced to base levels by being treated as plastic marketable commodities and where even subcultures which attempt to distance themselves from such attitudes are themselves often bound by petty constraints and perceived rules and trends something like (Un)reality is more than welcome.
Epitimia then, hailing from Russia have been around for a few years, active since 2008 and (Un)reality is their fourth album. Over a year in the making and a conceptual album divided into two parts, 'Delusion' and 'Illusion', it's been described as their 'magnum opus' and I think that's pretty much on the money. It's an incredibly daring effort for sure, overwhelmingly complex and experimental music that spans close to two hours of playtime and fuses elements of black metal, post rock, jazz, ambient and shoegaze into one massive entity with a life entirely of its own. To be honest with something like this trying do define and identify the component elements and genres won't do it justice, suffice to say that like many of their labelmates the different styles of music are just tools to express Epitimia's ideas and sound. One predominant aspect which will be apparent from the outset is the use of the saxophone by guest musician D'arcy Molan, it appears in many of the songs on the album and works extremely well. Also female vocalist M. offsets the growls and screams used through the rest of the album, but the strongest aspect of (Un)reality has to be the overall writing, composition and construction of the songs and album as a whole. Such a mishmash of styles could go so wrong but instead they're used to great effect to create rich textures and vivid musical images. The black metal elements lean towards the atmospheric and evocative end of the spectrum, those who normally would be put off by black metal shouldn't be deterred as aside from some of the vocals (Un)reality is fairly easy to listen to, melodic black metal may make up the core of the sound the album constantly ventures down other avenues and goes to so many different places throughout.
(Un)reality is clearly a labour of love, it's obvous so much has gone into this and I'd think and hope the final result is exactly as Epitimia envisioned. I can't pick apart individual elements or individual tracks, it's not about songs, riffs, solos or any other individual aspects, everything on (Un)reality works towards presenting one whole cohesive listening experience, everything complements everything else. As far as the two discs go there are differences between the two, not drastically different but there's a noticeable shift from a slightly darker and grittier sound on the first to a more ethereal dreamlike atmosphere on the second. It's the second disc that truly shines, the first is impressive enough but it's when you reach the second that (Un)reality really takes off and comes into its own, it's like the caterpillar crawling along the ground transforming into the butterfly that flies freely.
I have to say this is the most difficult album I've reviewed yet, using words to describe this is like trying to paint a vibrant and beautiful landscape with a palette of just three colours. It's an album full of surprises, complexities and little nuances where it seems no matter how many times you listen something new pops out at you. Even at two hours in length Epitimia have packed the time full of amazing melodies and atmospheres, so many unusual elements that we don't often hear in metal albums and virtually nothing wasted at all. I've often spoken about the incredible creative talents and innovation of many artists in the underground metal scene and (Un)reality is about as strong a testament to that as you'll hear, proof that there really are no boundaries when it comes to metal music or music in general. With so much contained within (Un)reality this is admittedly a hell of a demanding listen, it demands full attention for a long time and no matter what your usual tastes are this is going to be very different, but (Un)reality rewards you with an incredible experience that's among some of the best that music has to offer. It's unfortunate that so many people simply won't venture outside their 'safe' zone when it comes to music and a lot of great bands simply don't get the attention they deserve. I can only hope that Epitimia find a receptive audience for this one as it simply is an experience unlike any other.
Reviewed by: Demoniac
In : Album Reviews
Tags: epitimia (un)reality experimental black metal progressive post-black metal post-rock blackgaze atmospheric black metal