Epitaphe - II (2022)Release ID: 36023

Epitaphe - II (2022) Cover
Ben Ben / June 02, 2022 / Comments 1 / 2

I haven't heard French outfit Epitaphe's first album, so didn't really know what to expect here. It was listed as Death Doom primary, so there was a good chance I was going to find something to enjoy, but it was also one of those rare Death Doom albums that also have a Progressive Metal primary. It quickly became apparent that this was a release that was going to need quite a few listens to come to grips with. With three huge tracks that each come in just under 20 minutes in length, and all of which shift through different phases that are seamlessly combined but with very few returning themes, you have to let this work seep into your bones before you can make a proper judgement. I'm so glad that I committed to it, as the rewards are plentiful!

I'm not going to get caught in the genre weeds here, but I will say that this "feels" like a death metal record. Yes, there is some doom, particularly on Insignificant, but there's more death metal, with most of the 19 minute Celestial almost certainly appealing more to members of The Horde than anything else. The performances are fantastic, with all sorts of influences dropping in and out without anything feeling like it doesn't belong. One minute there's blasting death metal, the next there's a spacey clean-vocal moment with a saxophone (I'm reminded of a less silly Pan-Thy-Monium on more than one occasion), then it's into a doomy riff spiral with cacophonous drums. Over the course of two weeks, I've gone from knowing this album is good but struggling to hold onto anything long enough to fully unwrap it, to knowing when transitions are coming and looking forward to the huge payoffs that wait for me.

Seriously, this is a great album, and I fully intend to check out their debut. If it has a flaw, it's that it overindulges slightly, pushing over that hour mark when it didn't need to. The album starts with a three and a half minute acoustic piece that, while pleasant, adds nothing to the album, and while each of the three monsters contain loads of great sections, there's always one or two that tread water just a bit. I'm nit-picking though, and recommend II to all extreme metal fans.

Sonny Sonny / August 14, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

Epitaphe's debut album, I, was one of my favourites of 2019 and earned itself a five-star rating in the process. So we are now three long war- and pandemic-riddled years on and the French death doomers have unleashed their sophomore, II, upon us (with huge anticipation from me). Luckily for us all their lack of imagination in the titling of their albums is the only area where they are deficient on the imagination front.

Once more the band employ a symmetry in the tracklisting as they did on the debut with a couple of three-minute, gentle instrumental pieces book-ending three nineteen-minute epics. II seems to be primarily tagged as progressive metal, but I am not entirely sure if that tagging is appropriate, chiefly because I don't know if a huge percentage of usual progressive metal fans would love this. I think of it more as death or death doom metal release that has some progressive tendencies, particularly in the songwriting department, rather than an actual prog metal release. The progressiveness here doesn't amount to overindulgence or technical showiness that bedevils so many releases labelled as prog metal, but is merely a convenient label to describe the convoluted songwriting. One thing is for certain, Epitaphe certainly employ an impressive arsenal of extreme metal tropes to achieve those songwriting aims. Vocally they run the whole gamut from deep, rumbling death metal growls to clean doom metal singing to harsh sludgey howls, back to soft, clean vocals similar to Mikael Akerfeldt's cleans on a track like Face of Melinda. Musically there are brutal death metal riffs, thick, sometimes melodic doom metal riffs, subsonic OSDM riffing and a plethora of blastbeats. All this multitude of weapons in the Frenchmens' arsenal are skillfully deployed with some excellent songwriting that, despite all the twisting and turning, is still fundamentally heavy as fuck! These lengthy tracks are not the slow-build, increasingly formulaic musings of the atmo-sludge wave, but tracks that rise and fall less predictably, ranging from intense explosions of brutal death metal savagery to calm and serene pastoral sections and artfully displayed technical prowess.

II is not an album for the impatient metalhead, but is a technically impressive (in both songwriting and performance) release that does not skimp on sheer aggression and heaviness when the music calls for it, but also contains plenty of nuances and variety. More challenging extreme metal releases can often, by their nature, be quite alienating with a tendency towards dissonance and angular song structures, but Epitaphe, much like Mikael Akerfeldt's Opeth before them, produce complex and challenging music that doesn't alienate the listener, but rather entrances and mesmerises them. This latest album should definitely cement Epitaphe's reputation as a metal band of immense ability and one of which to take note.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 3 | Reviews: 2


Release Clan Rating

Ratings: 2 | Reviews: 1


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 5


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 5

The Fallen
The Infinite

Progressive Metal (conventional)

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Death Doom Metal

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Epitaphe chronology

I (2019)
II (2022)