France’s Aephanemer has released their third album a while ago, and we managed to review it just before having to hand in our 2021 lists. Let’s investigate.
Back in 2019, Aephanemer’s sophomore album Prokopton caught me by surprise. Hailing from Toulouse, the French band delivered an infectious platter of melodeath, heavy on synths and memorable guitar licks. It’s an album I still spin regularly to this day and should have made it somewhere at the top of my top ten list of that year. It didn’t for some reason. So the band has done the only logical thing to avoid me from making that same mistake twice: they released A Dream of Wilderness last month, close enough to the end of 2021 to be able to forget about it having come out in the first place.
Not that A Dream of Wilderness is an album that deserves to be forgotten; far from it! To be blunt, it’s more of what made its predecessor such a pleasure to listen to, but to call it Prokopton 2.0 would be too harsh. All the elements are the same on A Dream of Wilderness, but there is more depth to the individual songs, more colour on the palette. Starting out with the promising instrumental intro Land of Hope, the album kicks into gear with Antigone. The symphonics are dialed up to eleven from the off, providing a good foil for the metal elements and Bascouls vocal rasps and giving the music a stately allure. There’s tempo changes galore and some excellent neoclassical guitar noodling halfway through. It’s excellent, and it’s only the start.
Things get even better with Of Volition, with especially the guitar solos soaring up to high heaven and the band giving it their all in the span of well under five minutes. Perhaps unlike the wild boar that graces the wonderful artwork, A Dream of Wilderness does not contain any excess fat. Instead, every song displays a sense of immediacy. Aephanemer plugs their instruments in and gets cracking with maybe only Strider crawling to an unneccessary halt halfway through making me wonder if that was the right way to go at it. Then again, with absolute ace tracks like Phanta Rei and Antigone, who am I to complain about a minute lost to a moody keyboard sequence?
In 2019, I wondered if Aephanemer would be able to top a masterful album like Prokopton. I’m sure Aephanemer wondered that themselves at one point or another. With A Dream of Wilderness, I’d argue they’ve not only expanded upon their signature sound, but written an even more cohesive and exciting album. An unmissable highlight of the year if you like your melodeath lively and bombastic.
Label: Napalm Records
Buy it here: https://music.aephanemer.com/
- Land of Hope (01:30)
- Antigone (04:12)
- Of Volition (04:43)
- Le Radeau de La Méduse (05:42)
- Roots and Leaves (07:23)
- Vague à l’âme (01:34)
- Strider (05:15)
- Panta Rhei (05:24)
- A Dream of Wilderness (06:16)
- Old French Song (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky cover) (02:17)
- Le Radeau de La Méduse (French version) (05:40)
- Marion Bascoul – vocals, guitars
- Martin Hamiche – guitars
- Lucie Woaye Hune – bass
- Mickaël Bonnevialle – drums
Review by Ralph Plug