Ecnephias - Ways of Descention
Code666 Records
9 songs (42:46)
Release year: 2010
Ecnephias, Code666 Records
Reviewed by Charles
This has caused me quite some pain to review. At first, I was swept away in the hamminess of this album’s synths and its cheesy operatics, and was quite prepared to proclaim it the worst record I’d heard all year. The silly aggressive whispering and deeply inauthentic string swells on tracks like Il Martiro Di San Lucifero made me think of a low-rent Claudio Simonetti soundtrack, and its blackened goth riffs seemed to plod away, unremittingly mid-tempo, and generally characterless.

It’s forced its way up agonisingly in my estimation, and now I see it as a flawed, slightly overblown collection of ‘occult’ (read: lots of lyrics about deviant priests) songs- but one which the phrase ‘a certain odd charm’ could have been invented expressly for. This is gothic metal with heavily blackened overtones. It trundles along a bit like a cheesy European Paradise Lost, with such innovations as gaudy piano sounds and electronic choirs that sound like the soundtrack to The Omen giving it a very odd feel indeed- and not necessarily in a good way. Give it some patience, and songs like Secrets of a Black Priest assert themselves less as laughable pieces of musical overacting and more as campily effective, surprisingly neatly crafted nuggets of gothic doom-death. Stop-start approaches to songwriting at first seem amateurish, but the moments where the gloomily melodic slower sections die away, to be immediately replaced by blastbeating black metal cease seeming like horrific flaws. Instead, you get accustomed to their rapid alternations.

The synths here, for better or worse, are a huge, huge presence. At times, as with the sci-fi noises that inexplicably but entertainingly accompany Beyond Suspicion’s meaty riffing, make it almost reminiscent of the brilliant, surreal Angst Skvadron. Then at times, as with the intriguingly-titled Marilene’s Lustful Whims, it all feels terribly silly, with the plinky plonky piano invoking the spirit of the very worst Euro-goth acts. The same pointless piano throws a sickly weak light on Empty Cold Veins and the whispered vocals that it accompanies are one of metal’s least convincing attempts at ‘menacing’ I’ve heard to date. On this track, the mid-tempo plod of pretty much every section starts to wear you down, and makes you wonder if there could possibly be a point to this sort of thing. Progress to A Strange Painting, though, and the catchy Satanic chanting over doom-death riffs that sound like My Dying Bride in drag makes you remember. Such is the confusing nature of the album.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this to… anybody, especially. Its worst moments remind me why I virtually never listen to goth metal and its blackened moments are not even close to being vicious or energetic enough to make an impact for the most part. But some of the tunes just have this endearingly campy atmosphere, and its riffs are often just clever enough to give The Ways of Descention a foot-tapping charm. Perhaps I’ve worked myself round in circles finding oddity and amusing features in what’s really just prosaic goth-fodder. Regardless, though, it probably deserves more than the one or two dismissive listens I was initially inclined to give it.

Killing Songs :
Secrets of the Black Priest, Beyond Suspicion
Charles quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Ecnephias that we have reviewed:
Ecnephias - Necrogod reviewed by Charles and quoted 78 / 100
Ecnephias - Inferno reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
Ecnephias - Haereticus reviewed by Charles and quoted no quote
Ecnephias - Dominium Noctis reviewed by Charles and quoted 75 / 100
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