EP REVIEW: Alphelion - I (ANTI // ALL Forever)

Usually I can come up with some witty or offbeat introduction to what I'm reviewing, but really I haven't reviewed something so thoroughly blackened in so long that I'm just plain rusty. Mark Alphelion's latest EP, I, as my triumphant slink back to the purer roots of the subgenre.

Now I have to give the band credit for being just that: a band. While I know a lot of 'black/blackened' metal bands do exist - the genre is absolutely dominated by solo projects. It provides a strange sense of organization and unity within the overall chaos of tremolo picking and caustic vocals; a strong step upwards from the standard wall of noise you often get. In fact, the instrumentation is very much well defined overall. It shows a degree of skill to have such clarity in a subgenre that is notoriously (sometimes intentionally) sloppy in execution.

As mentioned, Alphelion puts it's black metal roots forward more then anything else. While there are some rather death-like riffs that remind me heavily of older and more traditional death metal bands, the bulk of it is blackened as hell. I'd have to say this has a lot to do with Karl Dahmer's vocals - his seething intensity simply does not let up at any point during this EP. It's the defining feature of I, and where a majority of Alphelion's character comes into play.



Though, with a little research I find that Alphelion's professionality and clear experience as a black metal group is no surprise. The band itself is a cannibalized version of another project (Goat Sabbath) and all of it's members have extensive experience within the metal genre. Funny enough, it would have to be the closest thing to a underground or DIY black metal supergroup I've ever came across. Personally, I think this is for the better. As EP: I, is a collection of ideas and tracks that actually do differ from each other - and, not a thing here feels like filler or stuffing. Hell, the vast majority of the tracks are concise and seem extremely live friendly as well.

It has bite, that's for sure. Alphelion is a band that knows what it is doing - the experience of the past has been used to effectively bolster their EP's quality. In actuality, I feel like I'm experiencing the make of some serious black metal heavy-weights - or, at least, contenders in that category.

-KEITH H.-

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