Asphodelus – Dying Beauty & The Silent Sky (2016)

Finland’s Asphodelus (Formerly Cemetery Fog) sound like ancient Greek metal, and to me that’s a good thing. I’m reminded of acts like Rotting Christ, Septic Flesh and even the early outputs from the UK’s Paradise Lost – and it all comes off just as memorable as the classic efforts they’re trying to emulate. The riffs featured on the two metal tracks offered on the disc (Illusion Of Life, Nemo Ante Mortem Beatus) sound very warm, just like those early nineties discs, yet with the same tinge of melancholy present on albums like A Dead Poem, Sleep Of The Angels, Gothic, Esoptron or Ophidian Wheel. Hence, you can already gather that a great deal of Gothic atmosphere will be visited here and the female backing chants (uncredited) definitely add to that dark and gloomy atmosphere. The record is also decidedly rough, making it sound like it was made about twenty years ago. The disc consists of a short intro, to which some electronic soundscapes are used until it barrels out into that warm metal I was talking about. J. Filppu vomits out a grueling bark, which sometimes finds itself reaching into a bit of a scowl, making for a vocal performance that certainly feels like it came right out of the golden era of this music. V. Kettunen’s drums aren’t so loud in the mix, but they’re definitely not digitized either. For purists, this record really sounds like three guys that recorded right in the same room with each other and you’ll never know what that’s like unless you’ve done it yourself. Filppu also wrote the riffs along with J. Vayrynen (even though we could just as say that these riffs were written years ago by the band’s obvious influences) which further asserts the playing skills of these two men and their attempt to dig a rather old style and sound out of the cavern from which it has been for years hiding. Though it can hardly be considered a metallic piece, the album’s title cut is a light atmospheric piece that cuts in right between the crunching heaviness, making for a bit of a sullen meditation. It comes with a female vocal chant as well (also uncredited) which also incorporates hypnotic choral effects in the background. Not what we might have expected in the middle of the sandwich, but still worth your ears, I assure you. As I’ve said, there are very few bands still making music in this style today, if really any. Many of the progenitors have moved onto other things, with a crisper sound that doesn’t quite have the same raw and unhinged feeling as this effort does. Once again, the Finns are showing us that there’s almost nothing they can’t do in the metal, atmospheric, electronic and gothic doom/death genres, making me think there must really be something in the water over there. Seriously, some of the best music I’ve heard in several years is coming out of Finland, so I’m going to continue ti watch that country like a hawk. I highly recommend you do the same, and pick up this EP as well. They just don’t make music like this anymore, which is a damn shame. (The Grim Lord)

4.5/5

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