EPHEL DUATH — Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness

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EPHEL DUATH - Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness cover
3.04 | 4 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2013


1. Feathers Under My Skin
2. Tracing The Path Of Blood
3. When Mind Escapes Flesh
4. Within This Soil
5. Those Gates To Nothing
6. Through Flames I Shield
7. Hemmed By Light
8. Shaped By Darkness


- Karyn Crisis / vocals
- Davide Tiso / guitars
- Bryan Beller / bass
- Marco Minnemann / drums

- Erik Rutan / guest appearance on songs 1 and 4.

About this release

Released November 19, 2013, on Agonia Records.

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness" is the 6th full-length studio album by Italian (US based) avant garde metal act Ephel Duath. The album was released through Agonia Records in November 2013. It´s been a couple of years since the release of "Through My Dog's Eyes (2009)", but mainman behind Ephel Duath, Davide Tiso have kept himself busy with his solo project Manuscripts Don't Burn and the "The Breathing House (2010)" EP and with the "On Death and Cosmos (2012)" EP released under the Ephel Duath monicker. "Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness" features the same lineup that recorded the latter mentioned. Karyn Crisis (vocals), Davide Tiso (guitars), Bryan Beller (bass), Marco Minnemann (drums).

Stylistically the music on the album also more or less continues down the same path as the music on the "On Death and Cosmos (2012)" EP. Quirky, dissonant, aggressive and progressive extreme metal, that´s very hard to describe correctly. Ephel Duath have always been a pretty unique sounding act, even though they´ve changed their sound quite a bit over the years. While some artists mellow and become more accessible over the course of their career, it´s like the exact opposite has happened with Ephel Duath, who since their early black metal beginnings have become more and more odd with each new release. Always challenging conventions and pushing boundaries.

"Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness" is no exception and it´s overall an extremely challenging release. The music doesn´t feature many memorable hooks and the almost constant use of dissonance can be a bit hard on the ears. The musicianship are on a high level on all places. Personally I have a hard time appreciating Karyn Crisis raw, toneless and rather strained vocal delivery, but I´m sure it´s a case of aquired taste and she is as such not a bad vocalist. Maybe it´s simply the quality of the material, that´s making her performance stand out in a negative light. The word toneless actually describes the music pretty well and even when Karyn Crisis attempts to include a couple of memorable hooklines (like she does in "Tracing the Path of Blood") it all sounds more or less the same. And that is THE major issue with "Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness". It might be professionally produced and powerful sounding and very well performed (the instrumental performances are outstanding), but it´s just not that memorable. Sometimes to a point where I don´t notice when one track ends and another begins.

So my criticism is a bit harsh this time around, but sometimes "Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness" feels too much like art for art´s sake. An introvert release, that isn´t necessarily meant for the ears of an audience. In some ways it´s an intriguing experiment, but it´s simply too one-dimensional to be entertaining throughout the full playing time of an album. A 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong.
Kev Rowland
It has been four years since the last Ephel Duath album, so when I saw that this was available I really excited as this experimental avant-garde Black metal band have always intrigued me and I have enjoyed what I have heard of their previous albums. The line-up this time was founder, guitarist and songwriter Davide Tiso, Marco Minnemann (Kreator, Necrophagist, Joe Satriani) on drums, Bryan Beller (Dethklok, Joe Satriani) on bass and Karyn Crisis (Crisis, Karyn Crisis Band and more importantly Tiso’s wife) on lead vocals. The album was produced by Erik Rutan (Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal), who also appears on two of the songs. Musically this is brutal stuff, which is also bringing in lots of different styles from death metal through to jazz, and touching on loads of stuff inbetween, but for me it just doesn’t really gell.

There is a fine line between being experimental and creating a new style of music, and being experimental and creating something that in some ways in unlistenable, and there are times on this album where they straddle that line and times when they go crashing right on through. There is little in the way of continuity and I found myself getting musically confused as to what they were trying to do, as while there are plenty of BM elements it all seemed too disjointed and angular, almost as if they were trying to be too clever for their own good. The one thing that I couldn’t fathom at the end is where the fault is with the music or with my personal understanding of it. I listen to a great many forms of music, and have been known to enjoy Art Zoyd and Can, as well as plenty of free form jazz, but I just don’t get this at all. It is difficult to listen to, both in terms of timbre and style, and possibly if I made more effort then I would get more out of it, but it just seems too much like hard work.

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