The French melodic death/symphonic metallers return with their sophomore album, Prokopton, which is out now via Primeval Records.
It has been a whirlwind 2 years for the 4 piece since releasing their debut Memento Mori in 2016. It was very well received and saw them head out to build their fanbase globally with a hectic touring schedule and a place at Wacken Open Air.
Aephanemer former in 2013 and were a one man project for the bands first two years. That one man is founder Martin Hamiche who looked after all instruments until 2015 when he filled the band out. Hamiche is now on lead guitars with rhythm guitars and vocals by Marion Bascoul. On drums, it’s Mickael Bonnevialle. More recently, joining in 2017, on the bass its Lucie Woaye Hune.
You can tell a lot about a band’s possible longevity and impact with their follow up albums. If Prokopton is anything to go by, Aephanemer could well go on to be the biggest export from France since Gojira. Prokopton is 8 tracks in length and weighs in at around 45 mins in length.
I can often tell quite early into an album whether I am going to like it, love it or hate it. I can honestly say that within 20 seconds of album opener and title track, Prokopton, I was in love. The soaring melody of the intro hooked me instantly and I felt I was about to listen to something truly exceptional. I was right. This album is fucking brilliant.
The title track soars on powerful guitars with more than a little folk influence to the melodies. It’s quick and energetic with bombastic symphonic backing and deathly growled vocals. It’s so catchy and a really strong start. And it’s intro makes me think of the movie The Last of the Mohicans which is always a good thing. The Sovereign keeps going with the symphonic backing building with a nice riff before a Dani Filth like shout kicks the song off with a furious riff and rhythm section. The pace is great, the guitars blaze out melody over a chunky bass and the vocals are delivered with venom and speed. Little pauses to allow the guitars and symphonic backing to play with each other are just perfect.
Dissonance Within has a more ominous building start with wicked drum blasts and more infectious melodic hooks. The vocals are a little deeper here and the bass sticks out more making for a darker overall sound, occasionally punctuated with a ray of light from an uplifting orchestral blast. Little moments where the backing tails off to leave the guitars and drums blasting a rolling thunder riff are immaculate. Being the longest song so far, there is time for nearly 2 minutes of instrumentation at the end with blazing guitars, layered symphony and drums that fire off tempo changes at will before all fading out.
Snowblind comes next and is one of the best of a load of amazing songs. Snowblind spends a lot of time lulling you into a false sense of security before ripping you a new one. The melodic intro calms you before, out of nowhere, a blood curdling scream and insane blasting drums slap you awake. They hit you again a few more times like this. A clean singing, folkish section has you nice and chilled when suddenly you are slapped back to attention with a chorus of screams and guitars. Brilliant.
At Eternity’s Gate is a 2 and a half minutes of instrumental brilliance. Solos that pull on your heartstrings. With everything heard so far on Prokopton it’s already clear how immensely talented this band are. This is just another opportunity to impress and show how tight Aephanemer are musically. Back Again follows and gets the blood pumping again with a wicked rhythm and lashings of orchestral elements all working perfectly together. It also has a huge instrumental section in the middle that moves through different levels of speed and intensity. Bloodline comes in with more of the layered riffing and orchestral work. The vocals have a bit more snarl to them and there are some seriously crushing blast beats. Folkish melodies on the guitars really push the track on and it all feels very epic.
The last song is If I Should Die and it is a 9 minute long giant. It’s another cracking tune giving the band a perfect score across the album. The intro melody is beautiful, leading into a rumbling riff then further into a thrashing melodeath section. You can feel yourself being carried on a journey with the band, especially when the guitars take off soaring through infectious hooks and awe inspiring melodies through the lengthy instrumental/solos. All this melodic beauty steps aside as we end to remind you of Aephanemer’s ability to hit hard with an ending chock full of blast beats, deathly screams and furious riffing. Brilliant.
Prokopton is a masterpiece. It is a faultless amalgamation of melodic beauty and feral heaviness. A perfect blend of aggression and melody coming together with expert musicianship to form a powerful album that deserves to be heard and praised. The symphonic elements are a major factor and give the band a well executed layered sound. With so much going on, the band have handled the songs with extreme precision to make sure each layer, riff, beat and note has a place. And it does. From 20 seconds in, I felt this was something special and it really is. Prokopton starts on a high and doesn’t waiver for a second. This could well end up as my album of the year.
Check out Prokopton now on all the usual streaming platforms. Head over to Aephanemer’s Bandcamp page to grab yourself a copy in a few different formats as well as some merch. Keep up to date with the band at their website, on Facebook and Twitter. Whatever you do, just give Prokopton a try. Its a cracking album.
Prokopton by Aephanemer (Primeval Records)
The Final Score - 10/10