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Aepoch – Hiraeth Award winner

by Paul LaPlaca at 04 October 2021, 6:21 AM

AEPOCH is self-described as “Progressive Death Metal with hints of Black Metal, Thrash and lots of melody”. It takes a minute for them to live up to it on this album with the first track, “Atonement” being a disjointed and forced instrumental that makes little compositional sense. “Amnesia” is not much better with an annoying stop and start guitar rhythm that sounds like it was written by a 14 yr. old. However, something happens at 1:11, and the prog influences take over for a brilliant harmony guitar lead that leads into a lush, layered wave of dissonance. The punishing and unrelenting blasts that follow are extremely satisfying as the vocals roar from guttural growls to demonic shrieks, and whispers from a freshly exhumed corpse.

Vocalist, BRETT MACINTOSH is outstanding, covering a lot of stylistic ground while also contributing a very tasteful use of fretless bass. It’s a unique instrument in metal and rock (Outside of STEVE DIGORGIO and LES CLAYPOOL) and extremely difficult to play. He uses the instrument to great effect here, tastefully adding snaking bass lines in and out of the dense chord work. Guitarists LUCK and ARAR are equally fantastic here, creating atmosphere and haunting space in the upper realms and thick, crunchy riffs on the bottom. The leads are challenging and full of unexpected turns. At 1:24 in, “Overwrought” they introduce an incredible tension with their chord voicings that is reminiscent of CLOUDKICKER, then out of nowhere MACINTOSH comes in with a melodic bass line that takes it over the top.

Drummer GREG CARVALH is billed as the main partner-in-crime and co-head of the band and it’s well-deserved. His playing and drum sounds are next level. Standout track for me is #5 on this too-short EP, “Hiraeth”. It features a frantic and kinetic break in the middle, starting with a fluid bass pattern that is doubled by guitars and driven by a drum rhythm that would keep DREAM THEATER busy for a minute or two. Overall, this EP is marred by the opening track and part of the second one but they more than make up for it with the rest of the songs. It’s very odd and confusing to hear the differences as the music progresses. Vocally, there is so much to like here. Having only one style of extreme vocals can be tedious and boring so it’s really nice to hear so many different approaches, even within one song. The progressive elements serve the songs and don’t even come close to self-indulgence. Incredible performances from everyone involved.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Atonement
2. Amnesia (feat. Jerry Martin from Alustrium)
3. Overwrought
4. The Flesh Totem
5. Hiraeth
Brett MacIntosh - Fretless Bass, Vocals
Nicholas Luck -Guitar
Marcus Arar - Guitar
Greg Carvalh - Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 06 February 2023

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