My first full-length review in a while, I wanted to come back with a bang. So here it is, after having the promo for Epiphanic Truth’s debut album for quite some time, I can comfortably say that this album is tied for my favorite of this first part of 2021 (the other being The Armed’s new masterpiece ULTRAPOP). Like The Armed, Epiphanic Truth is an anonymous collective of musicians whose approach to both songwriting and ethos is anything but conventional.
Pinning this album down genre-wise is both a difficult and pointless task, but it’s my pointless job to talk about these things! It’s a progressive metal record, but progressive in the sense that it’s forward-thinking and ever-changing. It’s experimental, but fortunately for us this experiment is extremely successful. There are several other prevalent styles of metal on Dark Triad – the press release describes the album as a “psychedelic odyssey combining elements of Death/Black/Doom Metal with Jazz, Chamber music, EDM and ambient/noise music”. All of those are present (though maybe EDM is a stretch), yet this laundry list of sub-genres does not result in the eye-roll-inducing pretentiousness you may expect. Rather, the seemingly chaotic merge of styles blends nicely, and hammers home the band’s focus on the converging evils of humanity.
With 3 tracks spanning 43 minutes, the band delves into themes of psychopathy, narcissism and machiavellianism in each respective track. The album starts on strong footing with “The Truth Of The Beast” – a beast of a song indeed. The majority of the song is on par with the best of Slugdge, both in terms of musical style and songwriting. Things drop off in the latter third, but fortunately it’s a drop in decibels rather than quality, as the band trades in blackened death metal for ambient jazz. The band successfully lands sharp contrasts like this throughout the record. This song does a great job of setting the listener’s expectations for the twists to come, especially given the wide variety of vocal styles on display. Within the song’s first four minutes, there’s everything spanning death growls, harmonies, post-hardcore howls, and what I can only describe as a train conductor gone rabbid. Besides the vocal curveballs, one of my other favorite aspects of this song is those massive, foreboding dissonant chords that show up towards the middle of the song. These chords are the sonic equivalent of the point in a horror movie where the most heinous act is unveiled – and we’re only on track 1!
“An Inescapable Verdict” is the most straight-forward track on the album, well as much as you can call it that anyways. The song centers around a menacing main riff and a mesmerizing tom pattern. Here again the band makes abundant, but clever, use of dissonance. What starts as a brilliant doom metal song (with possibly Immortan Joe on vocals) smoothly transforms into a psychedelic nightmare only comparable to Oranssi Pazuzu. The subtlety here works so well, as you may miss the million little details scattered throughout on your first spellbound trip through this track. Things cap off very nicely, as Epiphanic Truth brings back the intensity at full throttle. The horns that bring us into the song’s trance see us out with an even more apocalyptic arrangement.
Yeah yeah, track-by-track reviews are super tedious. But given that there are only 3 tracks here, and that the album works so well as a whole unit, it makes sense to discuss each song in order. So that takes us to “Our Vile Roots Flourish Beyond Light” – or rather, the ambient wake of the waste laid by “An Inescapable Verdict”. Gradually building from that point, the song shows us more clean vocals than we had heard in the previous tracks. Drawing comparisons to other bands is a bit trite, but to give you some idea of what you’ll hear, the first half of the song sounds like what would happen if you were able to successfully match the suspenseful build of Mastodon’s “The Last Baron” but let Blood Incantation take the wheel as things progress. The second half of the song makes comparisons even more trite, so I’ll stop now! The second half of the track starts energetic, melodic, and dare I say hopeful, right before Epiphanic Truth shows us one last time that they are truly the masters of the suspenseful build. The song ends in cataclysmic chaos – perhaps forewarning humanity’s self-inflicted demise, or maybe serving as a desperate cry for a new way forward.
So there you have it – if you are a fan of extreme metal in any form, this album is a must-listen. Dark Triad is the perfect musical expression of all that is dismal and bleak about modern humanity. But that’s not to say Epiphanic Truth is entirely a “blackpilled” endeavour, as Dark Triad serves more as warning of the dark tendencies humanity must stand against.
Epiphanic Truth’s debut album Dark Triad: Bitter Psalms To A Sordid Species will be released on May 21st via Church Road Records.
Best Tracks: all of them lol
Weakest Tracks: absolutely N/A
FFO: Akercocke, The Ruins Of Beverast, Imperial Triumphant, Slugdge