When I think of Memphis, TN I think of Elvis Presley, Graceland, the land of blues, Mud Island … Heavy metal definitely has an uphill path in that corner of the Bible Belt and country music. Thus, Epoch of Unlight breaks the mold, and they do it in more ways than one. Not only they play extreme metal music in the unlikeliest of places, they also create their own style, serve us with originality and don’t follow the norm.
I will have to admit I have overlooked this band and The Continuum Hypothesis is my first introduction to Epoch of Unlight. Having changed the moniker twice before settling with on the current one, Epoch of Unlight also turned over personnel quite often. The main pillar, drummer extraordinaire Tino LoSicco, has been there from the beginning, and if it wasn’t for him there probably wouldn’t be a band today. All these circumstances caused a big gap between the previous offering Caught in the Unlight (2000) and The Continuum Hypothesis. This last album, however, should convince many that overlooking Epoch of Unlight means missing out on some damn good music.
As I have not heard a note of Epoch of Unlight prior to this point I had to rely on a promo sheet describing the band’s sound. And, man, is it hard to classify?! Fair amount of blastbeat and snarly vocals, Epoch of Unlight is not quite black metal, and while highly technical they certainly don’t belong in death metal camp either. With The Continuum Hypothesis the band created their own unique brand of thrash metal music with a blackened tinge. Tino LoSicco’s unusual songwriting style has to catch the listener in the right state of mind. This music is, no doubt, melodic, but you have to be willing to follow the winding road, trace the buildups and grasp the riffs. Anything but straightforward, I have actually enjoyed deciphering the songs on The Continuum Hypothesis. These cuts can not be digested all at once, so multiple listens are in order, and that is a sign of a truly good album.
Rhythm section of Epoch of Unlight is unbelievably complex and progressive, yet the interspersed melodies do not get overshadowed and compositions on the whole flow well. The band dabbles in harmony (Broken Pendulum) and has hints of the early Gothenborg style (Highgate). Celtic melody can be woven into blastbeats (Argentum Era Scui Duos), and something with the obvious and playful melody can shift and sound epic all of the sudden (Aberrant Shadows). To pigeonhole Epoch of Unlight is a futile task as on Highgate they remind of Dark Tranquillity Skydancer-era and The End of All brings atmospheric sweep picking of black metal. My favorite sequence is probably the most diverse any band could put together in the three song span. Quick thrash Kreator-like adrenaline shot of Cardinality is followed by creepy intro and then shot out of a cannon early Gothenborg Highgate, followed by black atmospheres of The End of All.
Production on The Continuum Hypothesis is a little dry. While mixing levels are good, and allow each musician to showcase his obvious skills, the end result does feel a little amateur. Nothing is amateur, however, about musicianship on The Continuum Hypothesis. Tony LoSicco is simply stunning, as he manages to bob and weave his complex drumming without becoming too flashy and distracting from the music. His explosive fills on Under Starside Skies are so much the part of the music the song wouldn’t be the same without them. Josh Braddock can provide a distinct galloping thrash riff (the end of Highgate, The Scarlet Thread), air raid siren guitar on Cardinality or some crazy ass solos (The End of All, Aberrant Shadows). Joe Totty on bass has to keep up with Tony, but goes on some prog runs of his own (Denubrum). Vocalist BJ Cook is the only band member I couldn’t embrace 100%. I don’t know how previous vocalist Justin Smith sounded (he also doubled as a guitarist), but BJ is definitely an acquired taste who really didn’t do it for me. Positioned somewhere between a growl and a gurgle, his latter approach does not fit the music well in my modest opinion.
Atheist in progressive spirit, late era Death in music technicality, Kreator in intensity and early Dark Tranquillity as the closest sounding reference – Epoch of Unlight deserves your listening time with The Continuum Hypothesis. Just get ready to part with a large chunk of it, as you will be hooked.
Killing Songs :
The Continuum Hypothesis, Under Starside Skies, Argentum, Era Secui Deus. Cardinality, Highgate, The End of All, Aberrant Shadows
|Alex quoted 82 / 100|
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