EPHEL DUATH — The Painter's Palette (review)

EPHEL DUATH — The Painter's Palette album cover Album · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
UMUR
"The Painter's Palette" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Italian avant garde/ experimental extreme metal act Ephel Duath. A couple of major things have happened since the release of the debut full-length studio album "Phormula (2000)" which was released through the Italian Code666 label. After signing to Elitist Records (which is a subdivision of Earache Records) Ephel Duath repackaged "Phormula" and included the tracks from the "Opera (1998)" demo, releasing it in 2002 as "Rephormula".

The band originally started out as a duo consisting of Giuliano Mogicato on bass, guitar, synthesizer, vocals and programming and Davide Tiso on guitar, synthesizer, vocals and photography, but before the recording of "The Painter's Palette", Giuliano Mogicato had left the band and Davide Tiso started to assemble a new lineup. In addition to Davide Tiso on guitars, the new lineup consists of Luciano George Lorusso who handles the raw extreme vocals, Davide Piovesan on drums, Fabio Fecchio on bass and Davide Tolomei who handles clean vocals. In addition to that lineup Maurizio Scomparin plays trumpet on a couple of tracks while producer Paso acts as arranger, plays synthesizer and adds electronic noise.

The music on "The Painter's Palette" is vastly different from the music on "Phormula". It´s not long ago I reviewed "Phormula" and my description of the music on that album was something like this: "Symphonic black metal with twisted adventurious riffs and electronic drums". My description of the music on "The Painter's Palette" probably goes something like this: "Avant garde/ experimental extreme metal with twisted dissonant riffing, fusion drumming, extremely aggressive vocals but also calm clean vocals, jazzy non distorted breaks and occasional free jazz trumpet playing". That might sound pretty confusing, but Ephel Duath actually make those ingredients work together extremely well. It´s a long time since I´ve heard anything this unique from a metal act. Sure there are references to John Zorn´s Naked City and Mr. Bungle too, but the music on "The Painter's Palette" is in the end an entirely different beast. The music is dark, aggressive and complex. Yet there´s that important memorability element present in the music at all times, that is vital in music as diverse and complex as this. After a few listens the music actually becomes a bit more accessible which I certainly didn´t feel that it was upon my initial listen.

The musicianship on the album is simpy outstanding. The diverse nature of Davide Tiso´s guitar playing and his adventurous approach to composing is simply a treat. The new rythm section is outstanding too. New drummer Davide Piovesan is positively on fire with his busy, fast-paced and complex fusion drumming. While the raw vocal/ clean vocal approach isn´t exactly new and wasn´t in 2003, it works very well on "The Painter's Palette". Harsh styled vocalist Luciano George Lorusso is in the same extreme league as post hardcore vocalists in acts like Burst, The Ocean, Converge and Breach. Clean vocalist Davide Tolomei has a pleasant calm vocal style which suits the music very well. No honey dripping emo vocals here thank you. While the instrumental part of the music most of the time is handled by guitar, bass and drums the addition of the occasional free jazz trumpet part is really great feature and brings lots of atmosphere to the music. There are a few electronic elements and keyboards in the music too which also help enhance the atmosphere.

The album should be listened to as a whole but there are of course highlights. The opening track "The Passage (Pearl Grey)" kicks the album in gear with a blast. You´ll find just about everything that is great about "The Painter's Palette" featured in that track. The instrumental jazzy "Praha (Ancient Gold)" also stands out from the rest of the tracks on the album.

The production is professional and it´s got a raw organic feeling to it that I greatly enjoy. It´s not too sharp and clean like many other contemporary metal productions.

It´s quite amazing how much Ephel Duath have grown and developed their music style since the release of "Phormula" and if I didn´t know I would never have guessed it was the same band who released both "Phormula" and "The Painter's Palette". "The Painter's Palette" is a unique experimental extreme metal album and has since it´s release influenced loads of other acts. It´s one of those few groundbreaking albums in the genre that you have to have heard at least once. The chaotic nature of the music and the extreme vocals might put off a few people but for most who are able to appreciate the music on the "The Painter's Palette" the album is deservedly considered a classic. This is a must hear album and fully deserves a 4.5 star rating. I´ll let time and further listening sessions decide if I´ll upgrade this one to a full 5.
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