ecnephias-st-cover-alb-600While this may be the fifth album by this Italian outfit, this is my first encounter with them and I’m surprised by how much they sound like a South African band I knew comprised primarily of Italians. Mancan has the same deep sultry tone to his incredible singing voice which he is perfectly capable of distorting when required by the death vocals. Piano and keyboards feature rather heavily for their dark ambience and complement the slow doomy guitars perfectly with their melodic undercurrent.

The intro “Here Begins the Chaos” is a pretty little number that feels really light-hearted and allegro, but that illusion is quickly swept aside when the drums and growls kick in for “The Firewalker”, only to return when the vocals swap to clean and the guitar melody bounces from left to right with an airy keyboard harmony to go with it.

Sicarius Inferni’s gentle Darkwave/Goth keyboards are boosted by Miguel’s bass popping on “A Field of Flowers” in much the same way the slowly driving guitar rhythm by Mancan and Nikko has Demil’s healthy kick drum power them on.

“Born to Kill and Suffer” alternates from slow and gloomy death then clean vocals to a terribly joyous sounding ‘la-la-la, la-la-la’ after a very fast paced piano piece then an excellent lead break.

The combined death and clean vocal layered over each other works to great effect on “Chimera”, while the dulcet guitar melody that carries on throughout the song is very gentle on the ear, especially when augmented by the keyboards for additional atmosphere.

For some reason “The Criminal” reminds me of Crematory, who I haven’t heard in over 15 years, but as it has the same mellow heaviness to it for some reason they came to mind.

While “Tonight” starts off with nothing but vocals and picked guitar, once the drums join the fray the guitar riff bulks up nicely to pack a bit more punch, only to have everything fade to almost nothing before the sweeping lead solo winds its way around to where the vocals return with the rest of the instruments in tow.

The nice choppy guitar riff on “Lord of the Stars” gives the song some added heaviness, and I particularly enjoyed the Italian poetry/lyrics.

The beautiful “Wind of Doom” is haunting as the guitars ebb and flow while the vocals go from clean to death whispers with a powerful bass rhythm rumbling over the twinkling keys of a piano.

You’ve got to love the darkness, as stated in “Nyctophilia” as it gently caresses your ear drums as it very slowly crescendos on the exquisitely played lead before slowing again for “Nia Nia Nia”, which appears to be sung Latin, either way it sounds pretty while still not being understood by me.

“Vipra Negra” appears to be the first single from the album and has an interesting video clip to go with it. It showcases all the transitions the band is capable of making in a single song from singing with clean or death vocals, in English and Italian, mild and gentle keyboards and guitars to strong and heady riffs with pounding drums. So if you enjoy this track, you shall most likely enjoy the rest of the album rather easily.

The outro “Satiriasi” is a bit of a weird psychedelic affair that reminds me of 80’s Casio tone soundtracks that would’ve sounded so much better being played on a piano. And to emphasise that point at the halfway point it does exactly that before reverting to a slightly more dancey keyboard sound again.

Definitely thoroughly enjoyable in my opinion, but I’ll let you go listen and make up your own mind.

(8/10  Marco Gaminara)