Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Written by: PP on 08/03/2017 22:13:13
Aphyxion's sophomore album "Aftermath" received its fair share of critical acclaim from the Danish metal and rock media during its December release. Here's a contrarian opinion on the Ribe metalheads that's surely not going to prove as popular: it's a decent melodic death metal album, but not exactly a masterpiece nor even a particularly noteworthy release if you look at the genre from a wider perspective than just Denmark. Let's discuss.
On surface, "Aftermath" is of course a much more accomplished album than its predecessor "Earth Entangled". The production has improved by leaps and bounds, now offering a crisp, crystal clear sound that brings about a similar modern vibe as the likes of Sybreed, Raunchy or even Mercenary. Instrumentally, the band's music has also become more interesting. While deeply rooted in Swedish style melodeath (think In Flames, At The Gates, and the likes), the effects-laden keyboards create an ultra-modern background ambiance that allows the guitars to occasionally smash through some basic breakdowns instead of twin guitar melodies. Together, these two elements forge a truly modern metal atmosphere that has been on a firm march forward for the better part of the last decade or so. "Prisoners of War" is a good example.
Sounds pretty good so far. But here comes the deal breaker, which is incidentally identical to "Earth Entangled", and which will continue to hold Aphyxion back from international success: the vocals. The growls are extremely monotone with almost zero variety to the subwoofer style delivery. Just like their fellow death metallers Illdisposed has always suffered on likability at this front, so does Aphyxion. The clearer enunciation due to the better production does only little to help this, and even during the best moments on the album, such as "Consumer Consumed", the vocals are only really rescued by absolutely fantastic instrumental dynamics that keep the expression afloat.
If you've gone through your fair share of Danish metal and hardcore bands, you'll know exactly what I mean when I call the vocals "too Danish". But in case you don't: it means a stubbornly insistent obsession on unnecessary brutality in the vocals department that usually hinders the sound rather than progresses it. If only there was even a hint of variety it might be different. But there isn't. Alas, "Aftermath" loses ground and international appeal where there otherwise would've been serious potential, based on the instrumentals and songwriting alone. My advice to the band is: find a better vocalist and you'll go far. Otherwise, it's difficult to see the band grow beyond their current level of popularity even in the long term.
Download: Consumer Consumed, A Part Of The Solution, Prisoners Of War
For the fans of: At The Gates, Mercenary, Psy:Code, Raunchy, Sybreed
Release date 02.12.2016