Ecnephias – Ecnephias

Talking about the new album of a band that you know very well and towards which you inevitably have high expectations is never easy. This self-titled album by Ecnephias, coming from two great tests such as Inferno and Necrogod, is not an exception; also in this case, as happened with the previous work, the impact was not the easiest, given the initial difficulty to get in tune with the new creation of the band from Lucania. In fact, as Necrogod differed significantly from Inferno, the same can be said of Ecnephias compared to its predecessor: in both cases the albums have revealed their value gradually, after several listenings, a feature that is usually synonymous with a certain depth of the compositions. I wondered why this did not happen to me at the time with Inferno that, on the contrary, had struck me since the first listening, but I think the answer lies mainly in the location of the songs in the setlist: in fact, if an anthem like A Satana opened immediately to the listener the doors of the album, Necrogod reserved its best moments in its descending part with the magnificent Kali Ma and Voodoo. The same thing, all things considered, happens here, with the two most immediate and enthralling tracks, Nyctophilia and Vipra Negra, which arrive after more than three quarters of an hour of music that needs to be worked on with a certain patience. All this is paradoxical, after all, if we think that Mancan himself declared that this work would be much more melodic than the previous ones, demonstrating that softening the sound does not automatically mean making the music more immediate and less deep. It’s undeniable that Necrogod‘s outbursts today are diluted in a guise closer to dark gothic than metal, going to revive, from time to time, the more persuasive forms of bands like Moonspell or Type 0 Negative, while remaining the original trait that the band from Potenza has always exhibited, even if showing its different souls. In fact, whatever the predominant style of one of their records or of a single track, Ecnephias are recognizable from the first note, not the only one but certainly one of the main features that make a band of higher level than the average; their fifth album (the fourth since 2010) can and must be the one of the final consecration, able to break the chains that imprison in our country, with very few exceptions, anyone who tries to propose music with roots firmly planted in metal. A record like this, in fact, lacks nothing, as it has both the right amount of catchiness able to make a breach even in those who are less accustomed to more robust sounds, and a compact metal skeleton able to swing often the head during the listening, and finally that peculiar Mediterranean melodic taste that today leans more towards Moonspell than Rotting Christ, the two bands that constitute the ends of the territory in which Ecnephias have moved in all these years. The very choice of not titling the work is the sign of how much this is considered by its authors the summa of an already brilliant career; a point of arrival, on the one hand, and at the same time a base from which to move to try to further expand their fame outside and inside the national borders. It has been said that the second half of the album is probably superior to the first one, but to underestimate the intensity of songs like The Firewalker, A Field Of Flowers and Chimera would be a crime; certainly, starting from the sometimes calm Tonight, with its splendid guitar work, the album undergoes a further surge, first with Lord Of The Stars, where partially reappear the evocative lyrics in Italian, absent in Necrogod, which are well combined with the melodies that are woven by Nikko’s guitar and Sicarius’ keyboards, then with the real killer song of the work, Nyctophilia, the classic masterpiece that alone would be worth a whole album, thanks to its unforgettable refrain, but in this case is fortunately accompanied by a series of tracks worthy of its value. Having said Vipra Negra, another symbolic episode that, wanting to exemplify to the maximum, can be defined, at least at the level of musical structure, the A Satana of Ecnephias, I wanted to leave for last the song that stands out on the others for its diversity, Nia Nia Nia, experiment absolutely successful in its intent to give to the dark sound of the band those folk elements enhanced by the use of Lucanian dialect. I have already mentioned the valuable work of Nikko at the guitar and Sicarius at the keyboards, but we must not forget the sober and precise work of the rhythmic couple Miguel Josè Mastrizzi (bass) and Demil (drums), even if, as it is obvious, the spotlights are pointed on what Ecnephias is the historical leader, Mancan: the musician from Potenza is undoubtedly one of the most characteristic vocalist of the entire metal scene, not only tricolor, and continues to progress in this sense with each album; his clean vocals are now more than up to those that for tone and genre are his reference models, and I speak of Fernando Ribeiro and the (never enough) late lamented Peter Steele, while his growl is always corrosive and of rare effectiveness even if, in light of the less extreme mood of the album, in some passages the use of this vocal style no longer seems so necessary. The Ecnephias of 2015 are without any doubt one of those bands that abroad envy us and that we do not find the space they deserve, a little cause of the difficulty of those who move in these areas in spreading their art to a wider circle of people, but especially because of the provincialism that grips the whole movement. It’s up to the fans (the real ones) to go beyond these atavistic limits to appreciate, first, and then spread, another great record conceived and born within our fertile and contradictory peninsula.

2015 – My Kingdom Music