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Persefone - Aathma Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 22 December 2016, 1:22 PM

PERSEFONE is a Progressive/Melodic Death Metal band based out of the microstate of Andorra, situated between Spain and France, in continental Europe. Formed in 2001, the band has slowly been gaining critical acclaim but still remain a pretty best-kept secret. When “Shi-Ken” was released in 2009, the concept album turned a lot of heads in the community, and 2013’s “Spiritual Migration” was an absolute masterpiece. Yet, they remain fairly obscure. However, this is a band that you do not want to fall asleep on, and their inventory is really a must-have. “Aathma” has been four years in the making, and contains ten tracks, including the four-part suite of the title track.

“An Infinitesimal Spark” is the opening track. It swirls with outer-world elements and a haunting piano line that leads into the Progressive sophistication that is “One Of Many.” Besides a little spoken word in the opening track, these two instrumentals set a mood that is both somber and uplifting at the same time. “Prison Skin” is the first track with complete vocal presence. The meter changes to and fro in a maddening pace that make it nearly impossible for the ear to keep up with. As this band has always done so well, it’s intelligent and accessible at the same time, with full prowess on display. The Death vocals are not quite as deep as in the past album, leaving some more room for the beauty of their craft to shine. The clean vocals and keys fulfill much of this. “Spirals Within Thy Being” has an ethereal sound from an unusual riff, some clean strings, and the delicate yet bossy piano playing of Espinosa, whom I have always felt completes the band’s attractive sound as a whole. The musicianship displayed here is absolutely impeccable.

“Cosmic Walkers” is the instrumental track that I always look forward to from this band based on works from past albums. They are so cohesive as a group here and the synergy that is created is something you cannot penetrate. It’s quite ambient in nature but they can say a lot without an overly sonorous presentation. “No Faced Mindless” is an attacking song from the staccato accents they hit, yet in the background the guitars and keys keep an even presence, with bliss like peering into a clear mountain sky that has no ceiling. “Living Waves” has so much going on at the same time that you might think you are listening to two or three songs intertwined but over-top of each other, fitting together like a key hitting each tumbler effortlessly, unlocking your consciousness. “Vacuum” is a soft and mysterious sounding instrumental that reminds you of the simplicity and pureness of beauty. “Stillness is Timeless” is a ten minute epic that is the final track before the four-part title track suite. There’s a delicate sadness here that somehow doesn’t make you depressed, but rather content for the melancholy there can be when everything else around you fades away and you are swept into the core of this song. It is full of might and power at times as well.

Now we come to the suite “Aathma,” which in total is twenty minutes long, and divided into four parts. Part One, “Universal Oneness,” takes your mind on an orbit to the outer reaches of the universe. It’s grandiose but tangible with melodies that shine and stick to your ribs, and a heaviness with considerable punch. “Spiritual Bliss” is a moody sort of bridge and is absolutely fantastic in that accomplishment. Light, spirit, energy and wonderfully executed lead guitar parts fuel this song. The closing piano is on point as it always is with this band. The third movement, “One With The Light” is strong and weighted, with full Progressive leanings. There is so much soul in this track it seeks to emotionally overwhelm you. “Many Of One” is the introspective epilogue, fulfilling your listening experience with the magnificent piano work of Espinosa, and pensive female vocals that tie up the wondrous beauty of the album perfectly.

When you consider the genre of Progressive Metal, you know the talent required to compose and play this kind of music is rare. We all know the bevy of wonderful bands and albums that have preceded this. With that in mind, “Aathma” is surely one of the most sophisticated, beautifully heavy, and challenging albums you will ever hear. When I think about this being played live, my mind can’t comprehend how that possibly be executed. But prowess aside, it maintains an accessibility that is absolutely pleasing, and a musical experience that will take you outside of what you think you know about music, in a most sublime way. The sound that I loved from this band in the past is there, but they have challenged themselves not to rest and have taken some new directions here that show their wealth of creativity and integrity. Set for release in February 2017, “Aathma” sets the bar so high that I doubt anyone will best this album for the year that follows.

Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

1. An Infinitesimal Spark
2. One Of Many
3. Prison Skin
4. Spirals Within Thy Being
5. Cosmic Walkers
6. No Faced Mindless
7. Living Waves
8. Vacuum
9. Stillness Is Timeless
10. Aathma I: Universal Oneness
11. Aathma II: Spiritual Bliss
12. Aathma III: One With The Light
13. Aathma IV: Many Of One
Marc Martins – Vocals
Carlos Lozano – Guitars
Miguel Espinosa – Keyboards, Vocals
Jordi Gorgues – Guitars
Filipe Baldaia – Guitars
Tony Mestre – Bass
Sergi “Bobby” Verdeguer – Drums
Record Label: Vicisolum Records


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Edited 02 December 2022

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