PERSEFONE – Lingua Ignota: Part I (Album Review)

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The criminally overlooked Andorran tech-death outfit Persefone has had a bad stroke of luck since they unveiled their fantastic “Metanoia” album in 2022. This culminated in them being forced to withdraw from a North American trek in support of Ne Obliviscaris and Beyond Creation this past fall, just weeks before the opening date. Longtime frontman Marc Martins announced his amicable departure from the band shortly after the cancellation, leaving diehards such as myself miffed, wondering if this ridiculously accomplished sextet could bounce back without Martins, who happens to be one of the most engaging frontmen in death metal.

This isn’t the first time Persefone has faced such setbacks. Drummer Marc Mas Marti left the band on the heels of their masterful 2013 opus “Spiritual Migration,” for which he penned lyrics thoughtful and insightful enough to make even the most hardened death metaller give practices like meditation a second thought. His words established the already intense band as one that could offer decidedly uplifting content wrapped in scathing brutality, a death metal band for hippies. Undaunted, they roared back with “Aathma,” a work worthy of not one but two appearances by none other than Cynic honcho Paul Masvidal. As crucial as Marti was to the band’s evolution, it was clear that he was merely a conduit.

After a brief intro, Persefone‘s first endeavor without the incomparable Martins hits us with all the mathematical furor we’ve come to expect from them, with new guy Daniel Rodrigues Flys and his frightful growls channeling all the rage, self-contempt, and desire to transcend that lyrics like “I embrace the state of thoughtlessness so I become one with the whole” demand.  Flys also offers keyboardist Miguel Espinosa a break in the clean vocals department, his husky bellows bringing both life and desperation to lines like “I’ve been dreaming of the one word that can’t be named,” and profound yearning to “there is a bond between us” just moments later. The dreamy outro track “Abyssal Communication” even boasts Flys channeling his inner Einar Solberg such that I briefly believed that the towering Viking had made yet another appearance on a Persefone record. Clearly, Mr Martins might not be the only guy who was born to front Persefone.

“Lingua Ignota: Part I” Artwork

Espinosa has by no means abdicated his secondary post within the band (good thing too – I fucking love the sound of that guy’s voice), but having a second clean singer in the band is sure to open some dazzling opportunities for the band’s famously precise live performance. If hearing the refrain and closing sequence of this gut-punch of an EP’s title track doesn’t make you salivate at the thought of hearing Flys harmonize with Espinosa on stage, may I recommend you get your ears checked?

While “Lingua Ignota: Part I” isn’t quite the dizzying technical foray that previous albums have been, Persefone has benefited from shifting their focus to composing engaging and memorable songs. “The Equable” is a case point in this regard. This cut relies more on melody and gut-wrenching delivery than it does on algebraic weirdness to get its point across, and the opening motif even recalls Killswitch Engage (another band whose generally uplifting lyrical content belies their heaviness), but at no point does the song altogether abandon the technical greatness that has defined the Persefone sound.

This has certainly never been an outfit to favor flash over substance, but scaling back the lunacy has made both for a meatier entree and an appropriate welcome for a frontman who might just have what it takes to open this incredible band to the wider death and progressive metal scenes. We’ve been offered only a titillating taste of what rejuvenation has done to this, one of the most exciting bands on the scene, and already I’m legitimately excited by what the future could hold for Persefone.

Released By: Napalm Records
Released On: February 2nd, 2024
Genre: Extreme Progressive Metal

Musicians:

  • Toni Mestre Coy / Bass
  • Carlos Lozano Quintanilla / Guitar
  • Miguel Espinosa / Keyboards, vocals
  • Sergi Verdeguer / Drums
  • Filipe Baldaia / Guitar
  • Daniel Rordigues Flys / Vocals

“Lingua Ignota: Part I” track-list:

  1. Sounds and Vessels
  2. One Word
  3. Lingua Ignota
  4. The Equable
  5. Abyssal Communication

Pre-order Lingua Ignota: Part I HERE.

8.8 Excellent

If this brief introduction to Persefone's plenty-capable new roster amounts to a canapé, the next proper full-length better damn well take them over the top. “Lingua Ignota: Part I” is certain to whet the appetites of their small but ravenous fanbase, and sets high and exciting expectations for the main course

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8
  • Production 9
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