Epitaphe – II (Review)

Epitaphe - IIEpitaphe are a French progressive death/doom band and this is their second album.

Featuring three near-20-minute songs bookended by a 3-minute intro and outro, II is a mammoth 63-minute offering from this enticing entity. For a simplistic starting point, think of a mix of bands such as Opeth, Nile, and Pink Floyd, and then realise that Epitaphe have even more to offer than this would lead you to believe.

The band’s style merges funeral doom with doom-infused death metal and atmospheric progressive metal elements. Despite the huge songs, this is predominantly a death metal style, just not a generic, standard one. Epitaphe enhance and enrich their music with so much more; the progressive parts of the music in particular are keenly felt.

II is replete with everything from airy progressive moods to brutal blasting aggression, and much between. Beauty and resplendence sit alongside darkness and misery as the colossal music runs through its playing time, visiting many different shores along the way to its ultimate destination.

There’s an emotive intensity to the faster, harsher sections that’s undeniably abrasive, yet retains a mood-based feel that feeds into the greater whole. Atmosphere is an integral part of Epitaphe’s sound, and this is created and maintained by even the pure death metal parts, not just the progressive or doom ones. Working in concert to produce broad soundscapes that boast multiple high quality moving parts, the songwriting and performances never let the direction of the music wander too far off course, despite the length of the main songs. This is music that’s layered with progressive accoutrements and textured with well-crafted emotive seasoning. Everything here feels essential, even the stylistic detours, and it all contributes to a well-rounded experience that’s as enjoyable as it is impressive.

The merging of, and sometimes sharp collision of, brutality and beauty has rarely been as well-expressed as it is here. II is a ground-shaking album of titanic proportions, yet still manages to forge a personal relationship with the listener in a way that many lesser-skilled bands would kill for.

Essential listening.

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