Thursday 21 March 2024

Persefone - Lingua Ignota Part I (2024)

Country: Andorra
Style: Progressive Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 2 Feb 2024
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I've never heard Persefone before, but they've been around long enough to still have a MySpace page, having been formed back in 2001 with seven albums to their credit thus far. They hail from Andorra, a new country to Apocalypse Later Music because it only contains about 80,000 people, few of whom are likely to be in metal bands. In fact, only two of the six musicians here are locals, with three more from neighbouring Spain and one from Portugal, but, just on their own, they're enough to drop the ratio of rock musicians to people to 1:40,000, which is pretty decent. I'm sure I'm also only just scratching the surface of what's going on in Andorra too.

They're a progressive metal band who sound very modern, especially in early tracks, which means that the aspects of modern metal that I like the least are here in djenty rhythms and shouty core vocals, but there's a lot more here than that, especially as the EP grows. There are five tracks on offer, though Sounds and Vessels is clearly an intro to One Word, so it should really count as four. Those two are probably the most modern and also my least favourite, but they display a majestic build in an almost ritual way, the band especially focusing on one line as a mantra and growing it from whispers to screams.

The vocalist, Daniel Rodriguez Flys, is also the new singer in Eternal Storm, a fascinating Spanish melodic death metal band who have a new album out that I'm looking forward to hearing. He was not on their previous one, Come the Tide, which was my album of the month in September 2019, in my book, a level above the latest Tool album that Loudwire is touting the album of the year. He's a bit shouty here for my tastes but there's also a versatility to his voice that takes him into plenty of other styles too.

It's presumably his whispers that kick off Sounds and Vessels, building to shouts and then back, as the music behind him follows suit, initially piano and bouncy electronica until they bouncy turns ominous and the song launches into major crunch. Everything's jagged, as you might expect from a modern prog metal band, but it's also very controlled. That all expands further in One Word, as technical and jagged but with a lot more atmosphere behind it. It's all bigger and more, with fast sections and a deeper choral take on the chorus courtesy of what may be multiple voices and may be post production effects, probably both, emphasising how elegantly it all swells.

Most of what I like about One Word and not so much of what I don't like continues on into the trio of remaining songs. The Equable keeps the jagged rhythms but alternates its vocals between that shouty core style and a bulky clean chorus. There's lovely delicate guitarwork and an atmospheric keyboard to wrap it up. Lingua Ignota opens with that choral approach, a folky tune turning angry, and it works the fundamental contrast that so often drives Persefone between calm and confident and hurt and aggressive better than anything else here. Again, the ending is surely the best part, but here the ending stretches to a few minutes of the seven and a half that it runs.

And that leaves Abyssal Communications, which continues the flow of gradually weeding out the shouty aspects to their natural extreme, which is to cut out the metal almost entirely. This opens mellow, the vocals clean and pleading. It grows too, of course, as everything here does, but in the way we might expect from a new wave song rather than a modern metal song, but a suitably prog new wave song at that. Flys continues his shift from my least favourite aspect of the band's sound to my favourite. He finds some deliciously smooth notes here, all the more so because for them he ditches the hint of grit and edge that he employs on the rest of the song. It's fascinating stuff.

Regular readers know that, while I'm open to every aspect of rock and metal and actively seek out the newer and more unusual places that the genres visit, I'm not generally a fan of that particular modern metal sound that's epitomised in djent and core vocals, when that's all a band does. It's a limitation thing for me. Djent turns riffs into rhythms so removes the other cool things that riffs do and shouty core vocals usually aim for aggression above all but almost always feel artificial. As an entire sound, that's limiting, but as a particular colour paint on an artist's palette, it can be an opportunity for contrast when used appropriately against other colours.

And that's what I hear in Persefone's sound. The sheer movement from Sounds and Vessels, easily the most limited piece here, to Abyssal Communication, easily the smoothest, makes for quite the fascinating journey. Inevitably, my favourite songs are the ones partway, because it's never about the destination. I might go with Lingua Ignota over The Equable today but I might reverse that on another day. Both are diverse and immersive, two things that I ache to find in progressive metal, and Abyssal Communication serves as a comedown from both. I presume Persefone will release a Lingua Ignota Part II sometime soon and I'm looking forward to it.

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