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Lykathea Aflame - Elvenefris CD (album) cover

ELVENEFRIS

Lykathea Aflame

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.17 | 66 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars LYKATHEA AFLAME is, or was actually, one of those many artsy tech death bands that seems to cause derision in the metal community. On the one hand you have the metal purists who find any tinkering with the metal basics of brutal, distorted essentials that separate the genre from the greater rock universe will taint the defining musical "aesthetics" and wish to install a eugenics program to keep metal from "breeding" with other musical genres. And then you have those who love the idea of a brutal tech death band that has the gall to follow in the shoes of avant-gardists like Mr Bungle by adding completely opposing musical moods and styles to the frenetic bantering of the head banging bombast which LYKATHEA AFLAME does in abundance. And of course, you have many who fall somewhere in between.

This band came from the Czech Republic and released this one well known, well loved as well as well hated album after they morphed from their previous incarnation as Appalling Spawn. While in A.S. they had already begun the process of expanding their horizons beyond the Cryptosy meets Nile death metal paradigm, on their sole LYKATHEA AFLAME release ELVENEFRIS, they really let the dog off the leash and like a randy slut at a frat party, mixes company with more styles of music than a brothel sees when a navy ship docks in Bangkok. The result is a blissful journey for the aforementioned artistic types and a wellspring of irritation for the purists who cannot comprehend the massive effort that went into this one.

ELVENEFRIS is a long beast to say the least, so it requires a major commitment to sit through this one but for any open minded tech death metalheads out there, this is on the essential listening list as it randomly drifts at hyperactive speed through a plethora of genres that meet and greet the brutal Cryptosy inspired blastbeat drumming, Nile inspired compositional drive (think Egyptian themes and thundering epic heavy metal melodies that intertwine with the chaotic death metal riffs) and a seemingly random chaotic romp through the tech death universe. What sets LYKATHEA AFLAME apart from almost every other extreme metal band of the day was that they were equally at home with long drifting ebbs and flows that delved in post-metal, classic 80s heavy metal and even metalcore, Pagan black folk metal and of course progressively infused compositional efforsts.

While bantering death growls and orotund pyroclastic aggression is the norm, LYKATHEA AFLAME provide tender moments of melodic folky sections with clean and "properly" sung vocals as well as pacifying new age passages, the longest which ends this sprawling repertoire of just over 72 minutes. It's fair to say that ELVENEFRIS started a trend in the extreme metal world that allowed bands like Between The Buried And Me, Augury, Unexpect and others to radically expand the parameters of what was acceptable within the confines of a death metal listening experience. As with any form of extreme music ranging from punk and industrial to metal, there are those who staunchly resist such artistic liberties and others who wholeheartedly embrace it. Personally i straddle both lines of thought. I love the pure unadulterated styles of death metal but when done right, an artsy mind-blowing mix of genres is exactly what scratches that itch.

It occurred to me that the type of musical delivery that artists like LYKATHEA AFLAME offer comes from a form of musical thought. As a musician i have found my own inner soundtrack operates much like the music presented on ELVENEFRIS, that being a seemingly random parade of riffing variations decorated with various dynamic and tempo shifts that seem to drift in and out of whatever background music of the moment happens to be. Think of this sort of thought process as having a continuous spectrum of counterpoints churning in our heads where metal, post-rock, circus clown music or whatever just sort of emerges as the dominate format at any given moment. It's sort of like a pipeline to that invisible world where creativity comes from and while that is usually the first step for an artist in crafting their works, LYKATHEA AFLAME seemed to find it adequate to utilize these random inspirations into a freeform explosive callithump.

This is very much tantamount to what some musical savants can conjure up as they can effortlessly transcribe a Mozart piece to sound like a Dixieland jazz number on the spot. So too does this occur for a select few musical minds who seem to think in music, however very few artists record their music in this astroplane sort of style. Virtuosos like Steve Vai have had tracks that utilize this process as well as other avant-garde metal artists like Maudlin Of The Well, but in the grimy pits of the extreme death metal world, this sort of thing doesn't emerge too often since death metal by its very nature is more of a hellish beast that is firmly based on a set of unspoken rules. LYKATHEA AFLAME was paramount in taking this underground musical world into the ethereal dream state and channel the results into what would emerge as ELVENEFRIS.

Many consider ELVENEFRIS to be a masterpiece while others a complete piece of trash. Having the same sort of musical loves of never-ending musical variations and genre bending, i have to say that i fall in the camp of loving this album however at the same time, my inner critic emerges to also agree that this is by far an imperfect album. Firstly, it's way too long and some of the meandering in certain sections, especially the lengthy post-rock and ambient parts can be way too long and little editing would've made this much stronger. Both post-rock and ambient can be fine in their own realms but the contrast here seems awkward and not planned out as how to integrate it into the overall mood swings of the album. As many others have stated, the ubiquitous snare drum bombast provides a rather generic percussive drive throughout the album's run. More percussive variation would've gone a long way.

If only the other elements of the music were as diverse as the need for an incessant tempo change and addition of changing subdued elements ELVENEFRIST could've been a much better album. LYKATHEA AFLAME should have developed into a true artistic powerhouse had they recorded another album or two but even taken as is, ELVENEFRIS is a powerfully unique technical death metal experience that more often than not delivers the goods of a true extreme avant-garde maelstrom of metal madness. On the plus side, the album balances melody with dissonance quite successfully and never relies on any trick or trinket within the metal passages for too long. While not perfect in my mind, LYKATHEA AFLAME, like many bands that have emerged from Eastern Europe delivered a strong album that offered a completely new way to experience the perpetually expanding world of the death metal universe and despite the incessant complaints of the wimpy non-metal parts, this is a brutal death metal beast of an album to be reckoned with.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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