Formed in 2010, this Italian band set about their debut album by dazzling us with a number of styles. Within the first two minutes, I’d heard an intense death-thrash riff, a strong progressive thread, death vocals, a moody jazz guitar insert and more than a touch of Opeth of both the mellow and progressive death variety. Breathlessly and not really satisfied, as there was just too much going on, I left “Eyeland” for “Erase that Frame”. Again that wavery technicality that I would associate with Opeth morphs somehow into a combination of deathliness and reflection as if two parts of a single brain were having an internal battle. It’s progressive, to be sure, as moods swing between metallic urgency and mellow acoustics. It’s a series non-stop progressions and I keep coming back to Opeth, which is perhaps unfair as it’s like a comprehensive exercise in soul-searching and the expression of kaleidoscopically different moods. The more I listened, the more interesting I found it. Parts of it are absolutely brilliant. The soul-searching develops in the middle of the third track into prog wonderland with a superlatively expressive guitar section. The track appropriately, is called “Silent Screaming”. Even without words it speaks, and this is what we want from progressive metal.
The band’s brilliant technical skill is then put on display in the instrumental “Shades of May”. To a soft and subtle background, the guitars paint eternally vivid images. The mood darkens as the heavier “Blind Side” begins and resumes the urgent and threatening pattern. It’s not irregular as EpisThemE always manage to tie up the many ends, which is a skill in itself. This is anguish where “Shades of May” was softness and fluidity. As “Blind Side” becomes more frenzied, it’s clear that the plan revolves around darkness and torment. It need not be, especially with such technical talent on offer, but EpisThemE are following their creative instincts. “Descending Patterns”, we’re told, “embraces the awareness of the decline of a multitude of values that surround the human being”.
The last two tracks “Endless Apathy” and “Nemesis” embark upon a further exploration of human emotions. “Nemesis” in particular is intoxicating, taking us through storms, frustration and a musical mixture of calm delicacy and anguished pain.
It’s a personal view but I wish that EpisThemE were a little less prog. The beauty, skill and talent got a little lost here in the complexity. Yet I cannot deny that “Descending Patterns” is a work of full-on, multi-faceted and intense in a way that does justice to the band’s creative imagination. Parts of it are sublime. There are many parts. To use a sporting analogy, EpisThemE have left nothing in the recording studio with this one.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)