Album Title: Taphos
Label: Ahdistuksen Aihio/Flamme Noire
This is an EP from Drastus, a French one-man band playing black/ambient metal.
The sound on this record is somewhat distant and muffled, sort of your typical "raw black metal" production. That said, it certainly fits the music, and the guitar sound is heavy enough to keep things from getting boring. The vocals are snarled and kept somewhat low in the mix, and the drums sound computer-generated to me.
The first track, "Flow Divine", is the album's epic. It starts out with some militant-sounding ambient stuff. Not bad, but nothing special. Fortunately, the metal part of this track is a lot better. The riffing here is squarely in the mid-period Darkthrone tradition, with several vicious variations on a theme. I especially like the layering of guitar and vocals -- there's a lot going on in this track, making the soundscape a little deeper than one might expect.
"Columns of Decline pt.I" is a guitar instrumental. Again, some cool layering. The rhythm guitar part here is quite drum-like in its relentless pounding. The echoing guitar at the end is also neat.
"Columns of Decline pt.II" is a short blast-fest with some surprisingly stately guitar work. It segues into "Sacrifice for the Unity of Flames pt.I", a short horror-movie intro to the next track.
The opening pick-slide of "Sacrifice for the Unity of Flames pt.II" sounds huge! This one alternates between fast and mid-paced sections. I rather prefer the slow parts -- they remind me of Inquisition -- but the blasting sections are also good. The vocals really come into their own during this song.
There's really only enough in "Taphos" for three full-length songs, but fortunately those three songs are pretty good. The artist strikes a fine balance between dark atmosphere and metal, and even though the whole record is only twenty minutes long, the songs are complicated enough to leave on repeat for a couple of hours without fear of boredom. If you like ambient black metal with a bit of meat to it, this is worth hearing. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "Flow Divine", "Sacrifice for the Unity of Flames pt.II"