EPITAPHE — II (review)

EPITAPHE — II album cover Album · 2022 · Death-Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Hailing from Claix near the city of Grenoble in the charming French Alps, EPITAPHE has been around since 2016 as a quartet of progressive death doom metal featuring PBFK (vocals), LBK (guitar, vocals), VLVR (drums) and DRZ (bass, effects, vocals). While its creativity isn’t directed towards album titles, the music contained within is a bit of an interesting mix of funeral doom metal, death metal, black metal, progressive rock and shoegazy ambience. In 2019 the band released its debut “I” followed by “II” which emerged in 2022.

Like many albums that delve into the world of progressive death metal, EPITAPHE employs long drawn out post-rock-ish tactics to milk every note of its maximum potential albeit with a series of chugging growl-a-thons and testosterone outbursts of brash bravado. II features V tracks that clock in at LXII minutes and XXXIX minutes. The album is bookended by two shorter tracks around the III minute mark leaving III sprawlers in the creamy filling. “Celestial” at XIX minutes and V seconds is the lengthiest monstrosity that showcases the band’s meandering tactics between aggressive death doom metal and more pastoral progressive rock.

While a typical death doom band consisting of electric guitar and bass, drums and growly vocals, the mellower parts feature clean vocals, saxophone, marimba and flute. In fact the two distinct aspects sound like totally different bands making the album in general feel a bit disjointed as the band hasn’t to my ears convincingly integrated all the ideas into a yet cohesive whole. Generally speaking the band employs a plodding meandering methodology that doesn’t really excel at anything in particular but rather nonchalantly employs a ratcheting up process of atmospheric death metal, death doom and non-metal moments for breaks.

This is a band that has received its fair amount of praise for the ambitiousness of its expansive sound but personally i’m not finding it tremendously exhilarating the way i would expect to receive such an invitation into the soundtrack of an impressionist’s Monet style of painting. Overall all II is an interesting and pleasant journey through an atmospheric death doom metal camp with some non-metal placidity thrown in for good measure but the entire thing feels a bit too conservative and reserved to warrant a running time of over an hour. In that regard it reminds me a lot of the blackgaze albums by bands like Deathhaven or Alcest which just doesn’t float my boat.

Probably just not my cup of tea really but in my creative mind i can think of about a gazillion ways to spice this release up to make it more appealing and creative but then again perhaps that’s the entire point which is to simply craft a nice field of subtleties that beckon a relaxing journey through a sprawling soundscape that doesn’t overstimulate. In that regard i’m certainly not the target audience but even within the world of atmospheric death / doom metal i’ve heard more engaging listening experiences. Not bad at all but rather mediocre as nothing invites me to return to this impressionist’s perspective of atmospheric death metal. Next.
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