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Akphaezya - Anthology IV - The Tragedy Of Nerak CD (album) cover



Experimental/Post Metal

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5 stars You like diversified Avant-Garde Metal but think that bands such as Ebonylake, Le Grand Guignol or UneXpect are tough to digest? You like epic Symphonic Metal with some experiments but think that bands such as Nightwish, Rhapsody Of Fire or Therion happen to be too overloaded for you? You like experimental Gothic Metal but bands such as Crematory, Moonspell or Orphanage are a little bit too brutal for your taste?

Well, then this record should be your new bible. The French Akphaezya (they could have chosen a catchier band name but it fits) take influences from multiple genres such and mostly Gothic and Symphonic Metal and add some progressive elements to it. One can for example hear jazz piano parts mixed with blackened gothic moments and haunting classic influences in "Scene II : Σωφροσύνη / Sophrosyne" as well as for example circus music and some danceable folklore moments in the vivid and bass orientated album highlight "Scene 1: Utopia". One can hear swing and jazz parts again in the brilliant "Scene II : Υβρις / Húbris" and even colourful samba and tango passages in the overall very heavy neckbreaker "Scene II : ?The Harsh Verdict". A couple of calmer tracks like the piano interlude "Trance H.L. 2" help this record to work better and give some time to digest and get deeper into the concept. The running time of a little bit more than fifty minutes is just perfect. It's not too short like a release coming from Spacemak3r and it's not too long as a release from Opeth might be.

Each song has multiple influences but in comparison to many other so called Avant-Garde bands, Akphaezya don't lose themselves in overlong and endless technical passages that seem only to show how extreme they are. No, the songs on this release don't only fit conceptually together and have a good guiding line. Each single track has its catchy moments and rarely exaggerates on too many changes of style. The musicians in here are in fact truly talented without wanting to show their abilities all the time. The band prefers to focus on the intellectual but never too overwhelming concept of a Classic Greek theater play and on the song writing itself. The smooth flow of this profound album is a clear trademark that makes this young band standout from many others. This release doesn't try too hard to surprise but rather wants to move the listener. A great example is the chilling "Scene II: Dystopia" with beautiful piano and especially violin melodies and sweet acoustic guitar riffs. This track reminds me of a calm Ayreon ballad but I even think this here is better than the great Dutch master of progressive music and you won't read this very often coming from me.

Right now, they are only known to experts of the genre but they really have the potential to make it far and please to any open-minded metal fan. And even beyond this, some bits and pieces could even please to fans of other experimental genres such as Progressive Rock or Free Jazz. Each song grows quickly and makes this record to one of the musical highlights of the year. Don't miss to check this release out. It may sound a little bit unusual at first try but already after a second spin, the catchy tracks will really grow on you. After more than five spins, I'm ready to say Akphaezya are one of the most gifted bands I have ever heard from many points of view. I could not listen to this kind of music all day long but if I do so I really happen to be into this little masterpiece of art. There are not many great bands coming from France but the few ones that I know are more than just great. I highly recommand to check out the releases of this band as well as of The Old Dead Tree if you care for atmospheric, imaginative and progressive metal music. These bands truly are one of a kind.

Originally published on on August 15th of the year 2012.

Report this review (#808966)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Prog Team
4 stars Just to get a couple of things out of the way, firstly this isn't an anthology and also this is actually their second album and not their fourth. This French outfit came together in 2002, with Stephan H. Zag-Zero (guitars/concept-story), Nehl Aelin (vocals/keyboards), Loic Moussaoui (drums) and Stephane B'guier (bass) and have been working on this album for the last couple of years. There are some songs such as 'Utopia' that are just strange (much in the vein of some of System of a Down's quirkier moments), whereas others are a little (but only a little) more straightforward, but the only debate to be had here is whether this is prog metal, symphonic metal, or avant-garde metal? To be honest, who cares? This is complex music played with passion and aggression yet always with stacks of melody and often some great piano to provide a little lightness.

The production is stunning, but when one looks a little closer at the credits it is hardly surprising as it was recorded and mixed by S.Biguet (Trepalium, klone, Comity...) and mastered by Brian Gardner (Down, Lamb of God, Queen, Suicidal Tendencies, QOTSA etc). There are times when Nehl reminds me of Candia from Incubus Succubus with her good clear vocals, but she is adept at many different styles which is just as well given what is going on with the music. It can be acoustic and gentle one minute then strident and domineering the next, truly progressive as it moves through lots of different styles and emotions ' but always with a metal base.

This is heavy stuff, and needs to be played at a high volume, but if you enjoy music that is both heavy and moving in different directions then this should be on your player.

Report this review (#815236)
Posted Tuesday, September 4, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Tragedy of Nerak resembles what would happen if a symphonic metal band along the lines of Nightwish were locked in a room and had avant-prog and jazz albums from the likes of Henry Cow played at them for a few days straight without sleep. Keyboardist-vocalist Nehl Aëlin mixes up clean vocals with some downright startling growls as the band lurch about in an experimental frenzy. Occasionally, the corset-bound coastline of gothy-symphonic metal can be seen on the horizon, but for the most part this band explores uncharted waters, attempting to apply jazz ideas to symphonic metal in much the same way as Atheist or Cynic did for death metal.
Report this review (#955457)
Posted Tuesday, May 7, 2013 | Review Permalink

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