(In this post Andy Synn reviews the debut EP by Exgenesis, whose members are from Sweden and Columbia.)
As far as I can recall, it’s usually in the first quarter of every year when I discover one of my big new musical surprises. Previous examples of this (admittedly, rather vague) trend were my discovery of Restoration by Amiensus in 2013, and the self-titled debut by Ion last year. So, as you can imagine, I’ve been keenly awaiting this year’s discovery, whatever it may be… and Aphotic Veil is definitely it.
Exgenesis is the fruit of a collaboration between two men, Jari Lindholm (Sweden) and Alejandro Lotero (Colombia), which delivers a fantastically fresh and frankly rather ferocious take on Melodic Death/Doom metal a la Daylight Dies/Swallow The Sun/October Tide, breathing new life into this well-worn sound with little more than a keen grasp of dynamics and superior song-writing ability.
The five tracks which make up Aphotic Veil weave together an enviable series of groaning, titanic riffs and grim, torturous growls with punishing flourishes of bone-cracking drum work and touches of darkly beautiful melody, wrapped up in a claustrophobic atmosphere of brooding shadows and haunting half-light which hints at some blackened marrow in the band’s bones.
Opener “Cloudburst” begins with some stunningly heavy interplay between the song’s monstrous guitars and utterly crushing drums, its hanging chords and a rock-solid kick-snare attack buttressed by flashes of bleak melody and Lotero’s visceral roar. Though this particular style of music is rarely associated with the term “brutal”, there are moments during this track that simply can’t be described as anything else, conjuring a cataclysmic of assault of gloom-shrouded fury — punctuated by eerie embellishments of chilling calm or soaring lead guitar work, which deftly balances light and shade in a manner that clearly marks the pair as dedicated disciples of the metallic arts.
The sombre, ashen melodies at the start of “Concrematio” soon give way to a downpour of devastatingly dense riffs and enigmatic touches of compellingly dissonant melody, the song building in steady waves of sound and fury which culminate in a vast and unstoppable tide of desolate dissonance and dour disharmony, and a thundering climax of menacing metallic fervour.
Shadowy instrumental “Aphotic” succeeds in telling a story without using words, its every fevered riff and tolling chord clad in a pall of pain and sorrow, its spiralling melodic denouement bleeding anguish from every pore.
The rippling drums and cascading doom riffs of “Futile Horizon” positively thrum with storm-drenched, electrifying power, Lotero’s bestial roar and Lindholm’s scarred screams imbuing the track with a sense of agonised urgency and drive. Somewhat akin to both In Mournng and Amiensus in places — though ineffably heavier, darker and more complex than either — the song effortlessly displays the band’s knack for weaving in hypnotic melodic undertones to underpin their choking morass of doom-laden guitar work and impressively punishing drum work, particularly during its extended finale, a mesmerising mix of ringing chords, torrential blast-beats and beautiful, wordless vocal melodies, peaking in a fading tapestry of many-layered and multi-faceted guitar/vocal harmony.
The EP’s final track, the leviathan “Noctua”, rumbles along at a slow, unstoppable pace, icy leads sparkling and crackling along its glacial surface as Lotero’s funereal growls boom out across the ether, drawing the listener in with mesmerising ease until, before you know it, the song is over, five whole minutes having disappeared, seemingly in an instant.
Effortlessly and irresistibly compelling throughout, with any justice the debut EP by Exgenesis will come to be seen as more than just another stellar entry in the ever-growing canon of European Death/Doom, but rather as a vital catalyst in the much-needed renaissance of the genre. It’s really that good.
Indeed, although the sound may be a familiar one, Aphotic Veil simply feels fresher and more alive with potential than many of the more established acts who deal in this same mix of deathly doom and melodic gloom, and hopefully stands as a harbinger of even greater things to come from these two men – students of the style who are well on their way to becoming masters in their own right.
Aphotic Veil was released on January 25 by Naturmacht Productions and is available on CD and digitally, via the Bandcamp links below.