Album Review – Aephanemer / Prokopton (2019)

Blending the fury and harmony of Scandinavian metal with symphonic elements, here comes a French Melodic Death Metal unity ready to show the world what they got with their sophomore album.

If you’re a fan of modern-day Melodic Death Metal the likes of Arch Enemy, The Agonist, In Flames and Soilwork, I’m sure you’ll love the music found in Prokopton, the sophomore full-length album by French metallers Aephanemer. Blending the fury and harmony of the traditional Scandinavian sound from the Gothenburg scene with several distinct symphonic and epic elements, this talented French four-piece army will captivate your senses with the potency, speed and intricacy found in each one of the eight tracks of their brand new opus, positioning them as one of the most interesting and promising names not only of the current metal scene in their homeland France, but anywhere else in the world where the modernity and specially the intensity of Melodic Death Metal are truly appreciated.

Formed in 2013 in Toulouse, capital of France’s southern Occitanie region, as a one-man band by guitarist Martin Hamiche to release six instrumental pieces inspired by his Scandinavian Melodic Death Metal heroes (with the 2014 EP Know Thyself being forged of those six songs), Aephanemer, which is the merger of the French words “éphémère” (ephemeral) and “fânée” (folded), have been making a name for themselves since becoming a full-bodied group in 2015 when vocalist and guitarist Marion Bascoul, bassist Anthony Delmas (replaced by Lucie Woaye Hune in 2017) and drummer Mickaël Bonnevialle joined Martin in his quest for heavy music. Featuring a classy artwork by Niklas Sundin (Cabin Fever Media), mixed by Dan Swanö (Unisound AB) and mastered by Mika Jussila (Finnvox Studios), Prokopton is an amalgamation of everything the band stands for and what we can expect from them in the future, sounding as exciting as it can be from start to finish.

An epic, Arch Enemy-inspired intro morphs into a more symphonic version of Melodic Death Metal led by Martin’s razor-edged riffs and Marion’s demonic roars in the title-track Prokopton, flowing flawlessly like an arrow high in the sky until its grand finale; whereas  background orchestrations set the tone for the also inspiring The Sovereign, where Mickaël dictates the rhythm with his precise beats while Marion, Martin and Lucie offer the listener a feast of flammable sounds. Epicness keeps flowing from their music in Dissonance Within, another dense, multi-layered composition bringing the best elements from Symphonic and Melodic Death Metal where Marion growls its rebellious lyrics like a she-demon (“Time to fight, no backing down / For I will have no rest until my skill prevails / Disembodied, a whistling sound / The singing of my blade ravages the plain”), and flirting with Symphonic Black Metal at times, Snowblind is a fun headbanging extravaganza with highlights to the pounding drums by Mickaël and another thunderous performance by Marion on vocals, not to mention the song’s majestic atmosphere.

At Eternity’s Gate is an instrumental bridge the likes of Gamma Ray and Arch Enemy that sets the stage for the thrilling Back Again, perfect for slamming into the pit and enjoying a cold pint of beer while the quartet crushes our heads with their instruments, with the band’s stringed trio being in absolute (and totally awesome) sync. In the very progressive, intricate and exciting Bloodline, Marion takes the lead with her Black Metal-like gnarls while the rest of the crew doesn’t let the electricity go down, firing stunning guitar riffs and solos, thunderous bass punches and smashing beats. And last but not least, in the dark and imposing If I Should Die poetry flows majestically form its lyrics (“Maybe it is going to take me nowhere / But I reckon not having to go anywhere / I don’t keep any illusion to hold dear / I just need to be ready to disappear / Void comes from the self alone / Fear from what we believe we own / Stoics across time give an advice / May death be daily before our eyes”) while all band members showcase their refined skills, resulting in a hybrid of a metal opera with the devastation of extreme music.

In a nutshell, Aephanemer are ready to take you on a fun and thrilling music journey through the realms of contemporary Melodic Death Metal with Prokopton, and all you have to do to join them is following the band on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and obviously purchase their new album directly from their BandCamp page or from iTunes or Amazon, where by the way the album comes with instrumental versions for each and every song as a beyond special bonus from the band to you. Mr. Martin Hamiche had a dream when he started Aephanemer, and now based on the high quality of the music found in Prokopton we can say without a shadow of a doubt that dreams not only do come true, but sometimes they also kick some serious ass for our total delectation.

Best moments of the album: The Sovereign, Dissonance Within and Bloodline.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2019 Primeval Records

Track listing
1. Prokopton 5:13
2. The Sovereign 5:17
3. Dissonance Within 6:12
4. Snowblind 4:24
5. At Eternity’s Gate 2:55
6. Back Again 5:50
7. Bloodline 5:29
8. If I Should Die 9:08

Band members
Marion Bascoul – vocals, rhythm guitar
Martin Hamiche – lead guitar
Lucie Woaye-Hune – bass
Mickaël Bonnevialle – drums

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Album Review – Pergana / The Visit EP (2015)

Serenity, passion and liveliness, but above all high-end Symphonic Metal, directly from Paraguay into your heart, mind and soul.

Rating5

Pergana - The Visit Cover 2015This is the first time ever we at The Headbanging Moose get to review a band from Paraguay, and based on the high quality of the music by Symphonic Metal act Pergana I can’t wait to receive more and more material from the Paraguayan underground metal scene. Although Pergana’s brand new album The Visit might be just an EP containing four songs in a little less than 17 minutes, the potential and the passion for Heavy Metal are definitely there, allowing the band to undoubtedly aim higher and higher with their future releases.

After releasing their first promotional single in 2010 called Frozen Heart and an EP in 2011 entitled The Mirror of Silence, which led to their music being played in radio stations all over the American and European continents, Pergana seem to be on the right path with The Visit. Recorded and mixed at Blind Owl Studio (Paraguay) and mastered at the famous Finnvox Studios (Finland), it’s evident that the band drinks from the magical fountain of Scandinavian Symphonic Metal to write their music, but that doesn’t mean they do not add their own touch and personality to the compositions.

The first song of the EP, entitled Return to Innocence, reveals a bold and exciting musicality relying heavily on the synchronicity between the riffs by Matt Martinez and the keyboards by Adrian Benegas, with an absurdly catchy chorus that will make you sing along with the band for sure. Moreover, the vocals by the gorgeous frontwoman Angela Aquino are spot-on to what the music demands, reminding me of the voice tones from renowned divas such as Simone Simons and Floor Jansen.

Pergana - Promo Pic 2015Then we have the title-track, The Visit, presenting a more rhythmic and straightforward musicality and emotional lyrics commonly found in Symphonic Metal. Drummer Seba Ramirez doesn’t let the energy level go down, therefore maintaining a good flow of the music, also boosted by the excellent guitar solo by Matt. In The Whisper, Pergana offer a smooth sonority focused on the beautiful voice by Angela, growing into a pleasant semi-acoustic ballad where Angela obviously takes the lead but with a huge contribution by the other band members in crafting a serene and introspective ambience. In addition to that, I’m pretty sure fans of the genre will feel touched by the song’s lyrics.

And last but not least we have Redemption, recorded at Angels Cry Studios (Germany) and featuring bassist Oliver Holzwarth and drummer Alex Holzwarth, known as The Holzwarth Brothers, whose  solid skills enhance the song’s effectiveness. With its first part following a similar pattern than the previous tune (especially the melancholy emanating from the piano notes by Adrian), Angela once again showcases a very passionate performance before the second part of the song brings forward some traditional Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with hints of progressiveness added to it through its keyboards and riffs.

If Pergana will truly excel in the world of heavy music only time will tell, but in the meantime I recommend you pay a visit to their Facebook page and YouTube channel to know more about this talented band from the “distant kingdom” of Paraguay, and you can also purchase The Visit at the CD Baby website. If you want to feel serenity, passion and liveliness flowing directly into you heart, mind and soul, Pergana have what it takes to satisfy your most impassioned yearnings.

Best moments of the album: Return to Innocence.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2015 Independent

Track listing
1.Return to Innocence 4:09
2.The Visit 3:37
3.The Whisper 3:43
4.Redemption (feat. The Holzwarth Brothers) 5:04

Band members
Angela Aquino – vocals
Matt Martinez – guitars
Adrian Benegas – keyboards
Seba Ramirez – drums

Guest musicans
Oliver Holzwarth – bass on “Redemption”
Alex Holzwarth – drums on “Redemption”
Aldo Benegas – bass on “Return to Innocence” and “The Visit”
Gonzalo Codas – narration on “Redemption”