Review from Black Belle Webzine

Posted by Nick Skog on Sunday, November 4, 2012 Under: Album Reviews
From: Black Belle Webzine
Published: October 11, 2012
Original Link

 Russian trio Epitimia deliver their third full length album 'Faces Of Insanity' for the prolific and always interesting Canadian label Hypnotic Dirge Records which for an outfit birthed only four years ago in 2008 makes them relatively prolific themselves as well, almost putting out an opus for each year of existence. 

The band, comprised of Alexander Machtakov (going as A. here) on guitar and bass with the obscurely monikered K. handling vocal duties and M. responsible for drums are categorically black metal in nature, milling somewhere around the middle between depressive BM and atmospheric BM but include a swarm of other aspects in their compositions that keep them from being strictly rooted in any particular strain of the genre. 

Nine pieces make up 'Faces Of Insanity', spanning the album out to roughly eight minutes short of one full hour with an instrumental intro and outro bookending six episodes ('Epikrisis I' to 'Epikrisis VI') and a nine minute epic 'DS:Schizophrenia'. 

The introductory prelude 'Reminiscentia' serves to evoke atmospheres, conjuring up a sense of cold depression and austere lament, all mournful guitars that trickle into a bed of experimentation and ambient soundscapes. 

A faint rush of screams resonates amongst this and intermittent spots of drum and initially one might be unsure of just what direction the three piece are going to go on 'Faces Of Insanity' until one and a half minutes when cold plumes of tremolo leak over bass and plodding drums, heralding the dawn of the outfits black metal nature. 

From this Epitimia move into more traditional black metal territory on ensuing number the first of the Epikrisis series-'Altered State of Consciousness' which follows a cool little melody that rolls over cymbals and shuffling drums in a laidback psychedelic fashion with sweeping dissonant guitars and a thick bass ripple also present. 

Just less than one minute elapsed and the vocals of frontman K. cut through forlorn melodies that pick their way out of the dark fuzz of atonal axework, these vocals a harsh kind of whisper tone that pulse malevolently in the roiling black mass of instrumentation. 

After a two minute interjection of unexpected electro synth type stuff the tempo of the track amplifies into speedier climes, albeit remaining in these traditional BM terrains only temporarily before resuming the morose trudge with clean soaring vocals in accompaniment. 

It swings between these two extremes with an intriguing collision of black metal with what one might even be inclined to refer to as shoegaze (fortunately not extensively) until concluding on the slower end of the scale. 

'Epikirisis II-Intrusive Thoughts' begins quietly, tranquil refrains of guitar moving along like the motion of a peaceful stream and then just under one minute this is swamped by a deluge of glacial axework which though relatively sluggish is still hostile and dark, aided in its harsh endeavours by having sick feral vocals dragged out of it. 

The drums of M. are also a fairly ponderous affair with a continual emphasis on sticks clattering over cymbals and in league with this is a persistent bass spine. Some great atmospheres are dreamed up through the freezing cold passages of guitar with some regal touches to be found in a number of the lines and unlike the track that stormed before it it rarely ever gets out of first gear tempo wise, fading away in a snowy tremolo mist. 

As the album continues the trio unveil more aspects that keep them from being soundly pigeonholed in any one particular black metal box with much of the music in 'Epikrisis III-Megalomania' being extremely 'pleasant' if that is indeed a fitting word, the coarse vocal tones and guttural lyric delivery being the facets that add a darker edge to an otherwise melancholy inoffensive number. 

Plaintive clean vocals with a hint of desolation and desperation that features unhinged lunacy creeping in at the end of one particular mantra and protracted soloing are utilized during 'Epikrisis IV-Jamais Vu' while the lengthy 'Epikrisis V-Rorschach Inkblot' starts with cool trickling patterns of guitar and curious soundscapes eddying around bass and those infernal cymbal embellishments prior to shifting into an impenetrable black miasma. 

This latter composition is a big dark and occasionally repetitive monster with its abrasive axework and vicious vocal incantations but amidst the gritty ugliness there lurks moments of beauty and fragility, especially with regards to tremolo that could have been quite at home among tracks by the Norwegian or Swedish schools of BM. 

A little more introverted than some of the other songs comprising 'Faces of Insanity' it nonetheless has some decent rhythmic chuggings muscling up in the distance before completely fading into ambient drift and mournful strings in its last minute of play. 

The sprawling nine minute epic 'DS: Schizophrenia' also plays host to some stomping chugs of riffery amongst an assortment of cold moderate to slow passages, off kilter pinch harmonic spots and extensive wandering instrumentation journeys marked by vocal abrasion. 

The album essentially comes full circle with concluding instrumental piece 'Lethe' which is mostly a dismal grey sluice of ambient moments and icy guitar that balloons in heavy clouds prior to unleashing some unnecessary eardrum puncturing pure discordance and then vanishing into an experimental vacuum of white noise fuzz. 

I've heard Epitimia often referred to as ambient black metal but I wouldn’t wholly agree with that summation; barring some of the work in this final track and infrequent spots during others there isn’t exactly a plethora of evidence suggesting 'ambient' is an adequate or even appropriate tag for their style of black metal, both atmospheric and depressive are much closer to the mark. 

I'm not familiar with either of Epitimias previous two albums nor their demos/splits so I can't comment on whether 'Faces of Insanity' either differs, evolves from or improves on these works but I can say it does make for interesting listening throughout, full of engaging atmospheres and moments of both light and dark. 

Some of the latter tracks tend to bleed together and some instances particularly the incessant cymbal ticks are grating but as a whole the album is a great work from the Russian trio, adventurous, courageous and inventive. 

Reviewed by: Jamie Goforth 

In : Album Reviews 

Tags: epitimia faces of insanity four truths of the noble ones atmospheric post-rock post-metal black metal experimental 


Released: July 14, 2012
500 Copies
Atmospheric Black Metal/Post-rock