AKPHAEZYA — Anthology II : Links from the Dead Trinity

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AKPHAEZYA - Anthology II : Links from the Dead Trinity cover
4.30 | 7 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2008


1. Preface (1:59)

Tome I

2. Chapter I: Chrysalis (6:09)
3. Chapter VIII: Beyond the Sky (5:20)
4. Chapter IX: Khamsin (3:25)
5. Chapter X: Reflections (4:51)
6. Chapter XI: Awake (1:56)

Tome II

7. Prologue: Voices of the Storm / Title First: The Golden Vortex of Kaltaz (6:42)
8. Title Second: The Secret of Time / Title Third: ...To the Northern Lake (7:16)
9. Title Fourth: Stolen Tears (1:50)

10. Transe: H.L.4 (2:01)

Tome III

11. The Bottle of Lie / Postface (8:06)

Total Time 49:35


- Stephan H. Zag-Zero / Guitars
- Nehl Aëlin / Vocals, Keyboards
- Loic Moussaoui / Drums, Voices (#11)
- Stephane "A.A" Béguier / Bass

About this release

Released by Ascendance Records, July 19th, 2008.

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and triceratopsoil, adg211288, Unitron for the updates


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MMA Reviewer's Challenge: Album selected by adg211288.

Avant-garde metal is usually an interesting listen, as you never quite know what to expect. It's home to bands that exceed the boundaries of other genres, often incorporating many elements of non-metal music beyond the usual classical music and jazz fusion technique of instrumentation. Now, interesting doesn't always mean good, and I often find avant-garde metal to be a mess of ideas. Because of this, it can either be fantastic when those ideas are all incorporated into a cohesive whole, or very painful to listen to when those ideas are scattered all around with nothing to put them together.

French avant-garde metal band Akphaezya unfortunately ends up sounding like the latter in the first song after a sort of ambient intro. "Chrysalis" sounds like separate jam sessions placed over each other in a smorgasbord of styles that lack the cohesion that could put all the pieces together. One second there will be a calm and serene folk melody, then without warning black metal blastbeats and growls come in like you just turned on a different album. This keeps repeating throughout the song with various styles. It's a real shame, as I love the jazzy lounge/swing metal moments when they come in, but nothing lasts long enough to get the listener really invested.

The album isn't entirely like this however. Thankfully, there are several songs that each stick to one style for the most part. I think this is what generally works better. Mixing a slew of ideas is great, but it can be much more rewarding when each song uses one or two of those styles rather than trying to stick as much as you can into one song. "The Golden Vortex of Kaltaz" is the highlight of the album, and it takes on a somewhat thrashy symphonic metal sound. The guitars have a gritty crunch, while the vocals range from melodic clean vocals to growls a couple times within the song. "The Secret of Time" is another one of the best tracks, this time with a middle-eastern vibe.

Besides the lack of cohesion on several tracks, what often kills the album for me are the vocals. The instrumentation is very often great when it all fits together, but Nehl Aëlin's thick accent and eclectic use of vocal techniques end up ruining some songs that would otherwise be great. Take "Reflections" for example. There's some killer guitar licks, but I find it's easy to get distracted and annoyed when the vocals are switching from bouncy J-pop, to maniacal squealing a la The Mars Volta, to simply average melodic vocals. While vocalists who have this eclectic range of tones and styles to their voice are often lauded, I often find the multiple singing styles works better overall when multiple singers are applied, as usually the singers can play off of one another, making them all blend well. However, I will give credit where credit is due, as her vocals on the two songs I mentioned in the previous paragraph are pretty great.

Akphaezya's Anthology II: Links from the Dead Trinity is certainly an acquired taste. While it will probably be an excellent album for the staunch followers of the genre, this may be a bit of a tough listen at times for those who like a bit more cohesion in their music. It's nowhere near the worst of the genre, but nowhere near the best either. If they focused in on one or two styles for each song and didn't include crazy vocals, I think this could be a great record. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
Anthology II: Links from the Dead Trinity (2008) is the debut full-length album by French avant-garde metal act Akphaezya. The album is a total re-recording of the band's 2004 demo of the same name. In an apparent attempt to be avant-garde in ways beyond the musical the album is a part of a conceptual series, the second part, as the title implies. The group followed the album up with the fourth part, Anthology IV: The Tragedy of Nerak (2012). A total of five parts are planned and at the time of writing the first, third and fifth parts have yet to appear. It's unknown at this point which one will appear next.

The music on Links from the Dead Trinity is primarily avant-garde metal with a strong jazz influence being of particular note. The direction of the music hops around a fair bit from the strange to the more straight-forward and direct, using both metal and non-metal sections to great effect. I'm reminded of the perhaps better known and now defunct band Unexpect, but I find Akphaezya's music to be a little more reined in and focussed, which I find to be a great benefit to my enjoyment of the album. And musically there's a lot to enjoy on Links from the Dead Trinity. Heavy guitar riffs mesh well with dominate piano use and bouts of weirdness give the music a quirky side, without falling into the rather cliché so called circus metal fare than is often heard in progressive and avant-garde acts. The non-metal sections of the album are just as strong as the heaviest material, in fact Beyond the Sky is probably one of my favourite acoustic guitar pieces ever written.

But as impressive as the music is, and it is damn impressive, the real star of this album for me is the vocalist (who is also the keyboardist), Nehl Aëlin. The band has a really diverse vocalist here, who compliments the music perfectly with her style flitting about in much the same way as the instrumentation. Sometimes direct and with a rather normal sounding (and a very good) singing voice, at other times crazy and quirky as hell and then...well...she also happens to have one of the most intense and brutal death growl's I've ever heard, especially from a female vocalist. She uses such vocals sparingly, this maximising their effect when they do appear, though there are heard as early as the first proper song on the album, Chrysalis. The point where her growls really take the centre stage though is during The Golden Vortex of Kaltaz, the heaviest and most in your face metal song on the album. Nehl Aëlin is pure gold in vocalist form. Thinking about it, even though there are a lot more obvious choices out there, especially in symphonic and power metal bands, she's probably my favourite female metal vocalist. I can't actually think of another female singer who consistently wows me the same way Nehl Aëlin does.

Links from the Dead Trinity easily ranks among my very favourite albums of all time; one of those rare releases that I can listen to at any time and enjoy just as much even though I know the album pretty much by heart now. It's that good. 5 stars and would give it 6 if I could.

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