Review by Sonny for Epheles - L'ombre de la croix (2001)
Epheles were formed in 1997 by french brothers Malphas and Nephtys (possibly not their real names!) L'ombre de la croix is a four track mini album that marked the band's debut release, being released in May of 2001. It does suffer from some production issues and sounds like a reasonable quality demo, but as this is black metal we are talking about that is by no means an insurmountable hurdle. This is viciously feral-sounding black metal that is also incredibly atmospheric, despite some of the atmosphere being lost in the production. Along with the blasting and Nephtys' keening, shrieking vocals there is a liberal use of keyboard layering, ambient sections and slower riffing parts which makes the tracks feel quite narrative. Opener Winds of Despair, for example, tells the tale of the narrator's bleak existence since the death of his beloved, with lyrics that My Dying Bride would be proud of and sorrowful ambient parts that are usurped by rabid, raving shrieks and intense blasting as if his sorrow is unable to be contained.
Epheles songwriting is actually quite strong, especially the first couple of tracks which are the longest at nine and fourteen minutes and displays a strong sense of atmosphere and variety, whilst maintaining the fundamental essence of evilness that is the basis of black metal. Look, if you like your metal to be crystal clear and well-produced then you are best looking elsewhere, but if you thrive on the lo-fi gloriousness that really good black metal can possess then I think you may be pleasantly surprised by L'ombre de la croix.