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The Prophet - Essence Award winner

The Prophet
Essence
by Max Elias at 10 May 2019, 11:13 PM

THE PROPHET is a melodic death metal quartet from Russia, and this is their second full-length release. Based on the genre and the fact that there are eleven songs on this, one might expect a fairly long listen, but the whole thing clocks in at about 37 minutes. I attribute this to the prevalence of atmospheric ‘interlude’ type tracks to be found here; the opener and title track is one of these. It Is grandiose and sweeping, with its grand piano melody set against bellowing strings, serene and invigorating at the same time. It sets the stage well for "From the Endless Vortex", which comes crashing in with a vaguely "IN FLAMES" riff—thankfully were talking pre-Clayman. The song is pummeling but not brutal, in the darkly triumphant fashion of much of the best melodic death metal (the riff at around 2:10 tells me whoever wrote this likes listening to AT THE GATES). The closing thirty seconds or so are a classic ominous fade out. "Defeated by the Demons" picks up with a chugging thrash buildup before the drums come in; the song as a whole is definitely more thrash-influenced. For starters, it’s shorter. Also, the riffs themselves are more primal, at least the ones that open the song. Melodic passages still rear their head, and then evaporate suddenly with a pinch harmonic that ends the entire thing.

The pedal-tone riffing that Gothenburg melodeath is so known for is on prominent display on most songs, and the vocals bear a resemblance to early IN FLAMES howling as well. "Blackword" would be the exception to some of these rules, as it shifts between softer, clean guitar work and riffing similar to what I described earlier. Over the clean passages, the vocals are whispered rather than howled, adding to the melancholy, and the song ends with mournful piano notes echoing into space. I want to mention the song "Flying" as well, because it is a standout on the album for me. It starts with classic but satisfying melodeath riffing and evaporates tastefully into laid-back clean work, every mood in the song still staying true to the feel of flight.

I mentioned the prevalence of atmosphere-building interludes on this album before—three of the eleven songs fall into that category. The question is of course whether the music is good enough to justify the band deciding to ‘take a break’ for a little bit; a question I usually answer ‘no’ to, not being a fan of that sort of thing usually. The title track, as already stated, sets up the feel of the next song well, and the next time we see an interlude isn’t until "Dreamside Areas", which continues the ethereal approach the last track ended on; it’s mostly solo piano. As a continuation of what came before it works and is a nice reprieve; I think the difference in my reaction to things like this are due to how I consume the music. If I were to put this in my Spotify playlist and shuffle it, an interlude piece like this would be out-of-context and jarring to me, but if you’re someone who likes full playthroughs of albums, you should have no issues with that. Like the title track, "Dreamside Areas" also leads into a frenzied melodeath assault in the form of "World of Pain"—although this one lets up now and again, showing versatility.  The last interlude is "Grand Deliriozo, Pt. I" and with that name expectations are already high. It is an impressive piano piece, melodic and calming like the others but not without a few flourishes of notes (which I guess are what make it ‘grand’).

The final song, which is by far the longest here ("In the Dying Sunset") opens with a simple single-note melody soon joined by pounding drums, fading out and roaring back with meaty power-chord punctuation. It is slower-paced and there is an acoustic interlude a bit before the four-minute mark overlaid with strings, continuing the ebb and flow nature of the song. This is one of the few songs on here with a solo, short though it might be, wailing out tragically serene licks over sparse acoustic accompaniment. It feels like the song doesn’t need to be the length that it is, in that previous songs also have the ‘heavy/clean/heavy’ dynamic, in a much tighter framework. Overall, the album isn’t reinventing melodic death metal, but it is fun to listen to if you like old IN FLAMES or less grimy AT THE GATES with an occasional softer side.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Essence (Intro)
2. From the Endless Vortex
3. Defeated by the Demons
4. Emerald Eyes
5. Blackword
6. Dreamside Areas ()
7. World of Pain
8. Flying
9. Time
10. Grand Deliriozo Part 1 (Imago)
11. In the Dying Sunset
Lineup:
Doctor - Guitar/vocals
Jo-Sound - Guitar
Bathone - Bass
Raziel - Drums
Record Label: Soundage Productions
     


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