Aephanemer – A Dream Of Wilderness (Album Review)

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After rumbling the symphonic death metal realms with their roaring and sweeping sophomore album, Aephanemer is back with a new record that proves that the impressive results obtained with “Prokopton” were no coincidence. If their previous work granted them the signing by Napalm Records“A Dream Of Wilderness” sees them worthy of becoming torchbearers of the genre for years to come.

Although the singles already anticipated that we were in the presence of something staggering, the reality is that we are facing one of the most outstanding albums of the year within the metal scene. Once the listener gets to immerse within the sonorous experience enclosed in “A Dream Of Wilderness”, it will be safe to attest that the French band has created a musical tornado ready to turn apart everything in its path. 

For such purpose, the band does what they do best: to vividly blend symphonic and orchestral elements with extreme, heavy, and demonizing passages, resulting in a fascinating mix that manages to keep a melodic component within untamed ferocity portrayed throughout the album.

Aephanemer’s notable use of classical music can be appreciated by the listener in all its glory with the opening track “Land of Hope”, a beautiful instrumental piece that resembles the overture of a majestic symphony or the score of an epic film. However, once it is over, it is time to unleash the brutality that will allow classical music and extreme metal to come together. 

“Antigone” does not waste time in showcasing the results of such blending, so the listener gets to experience contrary sensations. On the one hand, the beauty contained within the song can be appreciated through the orchestral passages and primarily through singer Marion Bascoul‘s high-pitched operatic vocals during the chorus. But, on the other hand, all the fury is unleashed through aggressive riffs, violent blast beats, and evil harsh vocals by Marion, who showcases how diverse her vocal approach can get.

The French band does not only blend melodic death metal with symphonic elements. Tracks such as “Of Volition” show how well they incorporate power metal into the mix. As a result, the song splendidly delves into the possibilities that such mixture can provide, enrichening its dynamism with its frenetic pace, intense riffs, and the fantastic middle section that accentuates the melodic component.

That Marion is an extraordinary vocalist with a wide range of vocal possibilities is something well known thus far. However, in “Le Radeau de la Méduse” we listen to the French vocalist using her heavenly clean voice with greater vigor. The contrast that such approach produces with her malignant growls reflects the nature of the band in which constantly the listener is dragged to a sinister atmosphere in which melodic phrases collide with ponderous and crushing riffs. 

Suddenly, an ethereal atmosphere appears on “Roots and Leaves” led by the presence of an evoking choir that will remark the dynamism of such track. On it, there is room for fierce riffs, blasting beats, malevolent growls, and a fantastic orchestration where the symphonic direction of the band truly shines. 

Being Aephanemer a band with a solid symphonic component, it is not strange to find a piece that acts as an interlude, which comes in the form of “Vague à l’âme”. Such song is commanded by a soaring guitar that exudates deep melancholy and strong emotions, reminding the listener that there is a kind of beauty that can be found within sadness. 

With songs as “Strider”, the band demonstrates how they can strongly rely upon their classical instrumentation by letting the orchestration guide several passages of the music, including an intriguing breakdown that provides a graceful and epic respite before the barbarity is once again set free.

The remarkable proposal presented by Aephanemer reaches its highest point with the last two songs. “Phanta Rei” masterfully balances the symphonic, classical, and violent components in which each of them comes together to create a vibrant and dynamic track. The pace constantly switches between frantic and subtle through the song, allowing beautiful instrumentation to clash with brutal riffage, vicious harsh vocals with heavenly clean ones, and virtuous shredding with delicate passages. The closing and title track “A Dream of Wilderness” begins with total aggressiveness and gradually softens the attacks to give way for the orchestral excerpts to not only manifest and serve as a counterpoint but also to guide the track through some sections of it.

As bonus tracks, the listener will find Tchaikovsky’s “Old French Song” subject to the Aephanemer treatment and a French version of “Le Radeau de la Méduse”. Both songs fulfill what is expected from this type of piece by providing interesting possibilities to the listener. We will have the chance to listen to how a real classical piece sounds when it is turned into a metal song and how a particular track sounds when sung in the band’s native language. 

Once the album is over, the listener can attest how Aephanemer has mastered the ability to combine beauty with evilness, heavy with melodic, virtuosity with a subtle take, furious musicianship with emotional orchestration, symphonic components with extreme and aggressive beats, spiteful growls with pleasing vocals. “A Dream Of Wilderness” is where classical music meets extreme metal, where sonic counterpoints are often presented to create multiple layers full of nuances that enrich the record’s contrasting essence.

Released by: Napalm Records
Released Date: November 19th, 2021
Genre: Symphonic Melodic Death Metal

Musicians:

  • Martin Hamiche / Guitars
  • Marion Bascoul / Vocals, Guitars
  • Lucie Woaye Hune / Bass
  • Mickaël Bonnevialle /– Drums

“A Dream of Wilderness” track-listing:

  1. Land of Hope
  2. Antigone
  3. Of Volition
  4. Le Radeau de La Méduse
  5. Roots and Leaves
  6. Vague à l’âme
  7. Strider
  8. Panta Rhei
  9. A Dream of Wilderness
  10. Old French Song (Bonus Track)
  11. Le Radeau de La Méduse (French Version – Bonus Track)

9.0 Excellent

With their latest record, Aephanemer proves that the superb results obtained with their previous effort were no coincidence. With a proposal that remarkable blends symphonic elements with ferocious death metal, A Dream of Wilderness is where classical music meets extreme metal.

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 9
  • Production 9
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