Ephemeral is a three-piece Melodic Death Metal project based out of Thessaloniki in the northern reaches of Greece. With its main core composing of E2 (vocals/guitar/bass/orchestration), Angel (keyboards/orchestration) and Kostas Matis (drums), the trio have created a tight melodic death metal sound which has a few similarities with bands like Insomnium, In Mourning, Dark Tranquillity and Omnium Gatherum. With these influences and similarities, you know what you are getting – memorable melodic sequences, powerful vocals and dynamic atmospheric impacts across the release. Simply named “VII”, the album is built around the concept of the ‘deadly sins’ – each track is named after a sin and the content of each track should represent that concept metaphorically, atmospherically and lyrically… Or that is the aim anyway. Let’s dive in, cast off the chains of expectation and enjoy ourselves in this journey of musical damnation.

Opening up is the standard play for most melodic death metal bands: the instrumental track. Simply named “Luxuria – Lust”, it is a short sequence which gives a glimpse into what to expect from Ephemeral. The composition and arrangements work well; ominous samples and organ effects lead to a suspense building atmosphere which begins to grow in presence as the guitar, bass and drums come in. It begins to gather momentum and peaks at the moment where you expect this melodic death metal monster to roar to life, but instead it stops, trailing off into silence. This is effectively leading you along and making you want more of it, which as it turns out is actually a brilliant metaphor for the concept of lust!

With that much conceptualization and metaphorical plotting going on in just the first short instrumental track, you can tell that “VII” is a special release. “Gula- Gluttony” which follows up is a solid MDM track. Big synth melodies and voicing gives the sharp and harsh vocal attack an extra edge. Rhythmically, it is steady throughout, kept in tight control by a thundering bassline, and the sudden surges in pace for the chorus, which is sustained throughout the latter verses and the explosive solo sums up the hungering concept well, leaving us all longing for more of the melodic sequences or cruising riffs. ”Avarita – Greed” on the other hand is a raw sounding beast. Fast paced and consistently pushing, it feels like the track is clawing at everything, wanting more and more to keep it sustained. On the whole, it sounds like any other MDM track, but the atmosphere of it just makes it feel like it wants that little bit more so it can become something more notable.

The double header of “Acedia – Sloth” and “Ira – Wrath” forms the middle of the release and it takes up a considerable portion of the run time. Both tracks clock in at over 8 minutes each in length and both are totally different in their approach. “Sloth” is more melancholic with its feel and melodies, lingering with a subtle haunting air for the most part and only really stirring from its slumber round the 5:40 point with a solid instrumental sequence which boasts some fantastic lead work. “Wrath” on the other hand is much darker in its feel. Starting off slow, it soon picks up the pace and intensity with some rapid-fire riffing and ferocious vocals. With its pseudo-folk melodies which are reminiscent of the mid-90’s In Flames (think Moonshield!), it has a more sinister undercurrent and the volatility of the pacing and delivery of the track certainly has that angry edge to it, especially with the two distinct lead sections in the later parts of the track which provide great examples of melodic arrangements and technical proficiency.

“Invidia – Envy” is very upfront and intense with its pounding intro. The lumbering pace leads to some seriously heavy moments and the snarling vocals give it a real intense edge, much like the ever familiar ‘green-eyed monster’ envy is often likened too – it is always lurking, snarling and showing an uglier side, especially as this follows the melodically dynamic double header mentioned above. Closing the release is “Superbia – Pride”, and again it is another track which is structured around simple melodic concepts which are greatly expanded on and augmented by the accompanying components of the band. Subdued in the verse with clean vocals and a rich, thick bassline accompanying it, the track quickly springs to life as the chorus approaches, exploding with energy and a surging, uplifting kick. With a slick twin harmony lead spot reminiscent of 80’s heavy metal and an explosive, big moment final chorus, it closes the release well and it shows a bit of everything which Ephemeral have to offer us. Pride might come before a fall, but with the way this release has gone, there certainly isn’t any stumbling here.

Overall, “VII” is a solid release. Despite the slight concerns about one track and one or two moments, on the whole this release is consistent. The composition and arrangements are fantastic, the interplay of the instruments and vocals works extremely well and it is loaded with plenty of dynamic and atmospheric passages and sections. The metaphors at play and concepts within each track work brilliantly, and above all else, it is an enjoyable record. If sin leads to damnation, “VII” will certainly feature on the soundtrack for it!

(8/10 Fraggle)