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Simplefast - Eternal Award winner

by Kira Schlechter at 03 April 2020, 5:24 AM

This is such a rich time for metal worldwide. A fairly new addition to those riches is SIMPLEFAST, from what’s becoming quite the international hotbed –  Athens, Greece. Their latest, “Eternal,” is their first with new singer Yiannis. They got together in 2011 – the EP “Cursed” came out in 2014, followed by their full-length effort, “Apocalypse,” in 2017

The instrumental “Magnitude” and the opener “The Liar’s Truth” establish the band’s blend of traditional metal with elements of thrash. Their developed, balanced production gives everyone a chance to be heard, allowing you to focus not just on guitar and vocals, but also on Stratos’ varied, adroit drumming and the delicious ear candy of Nikolas’ bass. Yiannis’ voice is rich and resonant, no gimmicks, only the occasional growl, just straightforward, solid singing.

With its mention of 1914 (the stirrings of Greek involvement in World War I, which they call “the war to end all wars”), “The Liar’s Truth” seems to serve as a precursor to the bloodshed that would follow (“Greatness they said/I’ll do the worthy sacrifice/Lies they sell/Nameless tags on our graves”). “Nero Reborn” is marked by more of Stratos’ outstanding drumming, Yiannis’ big and booming voice, and the interplay of Hector’s and Panos’ lead and rhythm work and strong melodic sensibility. The extended section before the chorus, which really makes you wait for that fulfillment, builds tension very nicely.

It of course refers to the infamous Roman emperor (“He took his own life/What an artist dies in me,” a beautifully sarcastic comment on Nero’s delusions of his prowess as a musician and poet), and it even more cleverly refers to those parts of the Roman empire where many citizens believed the emperor hadn’t died after all and would return (several rebel leaders in fact called themselves “Nero Reborn”). These guys clearly did their historical homework. “Destroyer,” perhaps a comment on climate change (“Oh Mother Earth, we leave you”), is as angry-sounding as the title would indicate. Several nice tempo changes pop up after the second chorus, one with lots of METALLICA-esque wah guitar, another slower and more ponderous, both done seamlessly enough to not be jarring.

“Atonement” is such an interesting track thematically, perhaps referring to religion in the first verse especially (“Confession/Your only chance to live/Obsession/Drawn to sorrow and guilt”), and maybe resigning oneself to sin in the second. That ambiguity is actually quite appealing. The solo section runs the atonal melody established at the beginning in the background, keeping the continuity going, and it comes back again, slightly reworked, later on. They don’t miss many musical tricks.

You could listen to the descant of the lead guitar punctuated by the rhythm guitar and the grunting vocal in “Tension” all day. The overall mood – the groove, the breakdown (where the guitar mimics a bell’s tones with the bass undercutting), the spoken section (a study in thematic contrasts, like “Separated or united/Healthy or insane”) – is intriguing. Lyrically, this one too is ambiguous, but not frustratingly so. There are enough thoughtful individual lines to chew on, like “Someone swears his true love til death/While lays white roses on her grave.”

“Divine Prophecy” has a swinging PANTERA groove and another memorable riff, plus a savage breakdown with some fantastic cymbal work and tom-heavy backbeats. SIMPLEFAST is very satisfying musically, like in the solo section, where they build on that main riff and layer around it. The second solo section is brighter-sounding and gets a little off track, but it’s brief and returns quickly to that powerful main section. It seems to talk about a holy war in the chorus, maybe one fought on foreign soil with the second verse, while the first verse seems to be a missed chance, an opponent who was spared (“May we meet again/Such an example must be set”).

Tempo-wise, they keep you guessing, like with the faster pace of the title track. Yiannis’ vocal effects and treatments in each section serve almost as different characters, his growl gradually turning into singing, then into almost a guttural vocal, then to a spoken section, then to a deranged slaver and back again. They play again with different instrumental breaks throughout, all of which are worthwhile and eminently listenable.

There are also radio edits of “Atonement” and “Divine Prophecy,” as well as an alternate version of the latter track, on the deluxe version of the album. Sophomore efforts are rarely as completely realized as this.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Magnitude
2. The Liar’s Truth
3. Nero Reborn
4. Destroyer
5. Atonement
6. Tension
7. Divine Prophecy
8. Eternal
Yiannis Voulgaropoulos - Vocals
Hector Stavrakas - Guitars, Vocals
Panos Kladis - Guitar
Nikolas Tzanavaras - Bass
Stratos Midelias - Drums
Record Label: Sliptrick Records


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