Efpix - Evil Sides - (8/10)
Published on February 22, 2016
The surge of quality modern metal coming out of Russia these days is almost hard to keep coherent track of, and Efpix rumble forth with a well-meaning attempt to stake their claim in the industrial death metal epithet particularly dominated on a regional level by the likes of Oblivion Machine’s earlier efforts, Seecrees et al. Of course, the mention of “industrial” in this context is not along the lines of Godflesh or even Ministry, coming closer to something like Deathstars with the pseudo-orchestral, bombastic arrangements that curtail the murky, muscular gait of the guitar progressions proper. Evil Sides is not quite as garish as it lets on at first blush, precluding the occupation of lesser stylistic strata, commonly inhibited by gaudy electronics exasperated by Russian bands’ looser songwriting style.
The first comparison that sprung to my drug-riddled mind was Shade Empire, particularly their post-Intoxicate O.S. characteristics. Deviations from that particular substrate include the Character-era Dark Tranquillity mannerisms of “Space Invaders” and the groovy, Dagoba-esque rollicking of “The Slave of Satan.” In the latter’s case, Efpix take commendable advantage of the downright crushing and well-produced guitar tone, which is appropriately surgical sounding yet not without a viable accretion of grumbling rawness. Riffs themselves toe the line in and around modern death metal, with a fair bit of swinging power chord action to break up the bloodshed. Efpix’s style doesn’t always manifest itself in the most striking manner possible, but Evil Sides has the credentials to maintain attention throughout its entire playing time.
Detailing individual performances, numerable brownie points are hurled Alexander Kondrashov’s way for not only being the mastermind behind the entire project, but for being a damn good vocalist. His throaty cantor is explosive, dissonant and opaque. His primary weapon is a guttural secretion redolent of Fear of Domination, which is where the comparisons to Shade Empire end, as Kondrashov lacks the blackened, off-the-cuff ramblings of Juha Harju. And as mentioned above, Efpix occupy the industrial epithet pockmarked by more popular fare like Deathstars, which does the band no favors in the public eye (where it counts), but to be frank I enjoyed the electronics throughout the record. They are utilized extensively, usually opting for a more atmospheric, condensed style like the faux choirs that contribute a pinch of ichor to the exceptional “Forget Me.” The “cleaner” vocal melodies on the refrain remind me of Sympuls-e and Sunless Rise, so from that point of view Efpix represent many of the region’s stylistic idiosyncrasies and with a venerable rate of return.
Evil Sides wasn’t an album I adored on first listen, but it has replay value worth giving it some time to sink its claws in. The cold steel allure of the meaty, aggressive guitars in lockstep with Kondrashov’s roiling, barking inflection is enough to satiate even veterans of the modern Russian metal scene (like myself). I found Efpix to be somewhat less reliant on the suffocating melodic rapture that defines so many of these acts, replacing it with sinewy death/groove with a kinetic drive and intelligent arrangements. The record may be somewhat lacking in “blow away” moments like many are, but even without a money shot, Efpix stroke some mean industrial death metal.