CepheideHere we have a trio of mysterious Frenchmen who apparently come from varied musical backgrounds. This EP was released independently in 2015 and is getting a new lease of life now on vinyl as the outfit work on some new material. Although it is classed as an EP you certainly don’t find yourself lacking material wise as it contains two sprawling tracks both encompassing a 15-20 minute running time. Apparently it is a concept album too but I have no further knowledge on what it is about and my dire understanding of French has completely let me down. For instance the first track is called ‘Le Souffle Brûlant de l‘Immaculé’ and my attempt to translate came up with ‘This soufflé turned out brilliantly’ is totally wrong and the much more apt ‘The burning breath of the immaculate’ makes a bit more sense.

Joking aside this is very serious stuff. A strident strumming sounding like a swarm of angry hornets goes on just a little too long for comfort and what sounds suspiciously like violin and strings lurks eerily in the background. The sound gradually fills out with drums coming in and taking up a slow pound around this and finally the full multi-layered bombast ploughs away and steams off. It’s got a densely textured Cascadian feel to it and is also somewhat reminiscent of something from the Quebecois scene so you could immediately suggest this is perfect for fans of Wolves In The Throne Room & Forteresse if you want some sort of guiding points. As for the vocals they are primeval shrieks lurking in the background, I doubt there are any actual words formed by them but they certainly exude plenty of hatred and indignation in delivery. The musical barrage and tumult goes on endlessly in a mesmerising and windswept fashion and on first listen it did strike as a little one-dimensional. Luckily the trio do eventually expand upon things dropping in a looser arrangement with guitar thick and rigid taking up the call before another chaotic plummet into the bottomless, seething pit they have constructed.

There’s an atmospheric ambient bridge between the two tracks which is I guess kind of going to be disrupted if listening on vinyl as they really flow into each other. La chute d’une ombre (The Fall Of Shadow) swirls like mist into form and there are strings either played or sampled adding to the slow soothing caress of it. Classically enchanted the track is in no rush but finally a lone riff is borne to life and melodically enraptures before the ferocious storm hits in a welter of fury and tears through things with destructive rage. You knew it was coming but that doesn’t make the impact any less intense and the build up here was certainly skilfully played. The rest of this epic number is left to play between different speeds and paces giving you the best of both worlds and making for an all encompassing and immersive experience. I’m certainly going to be on the look out for the next work although sadly doubt my attempts at French are going to improve before it lands!

(7.5/10 Pete Woods)