ECNEPHIAS’ album “Dominium Noctis” is a puzzling affair. While there’s nothing obviously wrong with the record, there isn’t anything compelling in much of the strictly-Metal material here either. The changes in pace, aggressiveness, and tempo are certainly welcome, as are the occasional keyboard appearances, but the results of these aspects of the music seem lacking when compared to the compositional variants found on “Dominium Noctis”. The fact is, much of the instrumentation seems tired; the guitars speak in simplistic tones we’ve heard many times before and the Black Metal vocals lack any sort of personality or emotion. It feels like the band’s combination of Black, Doom, and Death Metal should be instantly compelling, but instead, a great deal of it comes off as simply mundane.
However, “Dominium Noctis” seems to be more than the sum of its parts. Though much of the heavier sections are composed of rather forgettable elements, ECNEPHIAS is able to weave an intriguing atmosphere into this album, one that is both listenable and enjoyable. The most gripping parts of “Dominium Noctis” come when the band quiets things down and allows mellow, acoustic passages, sometimes accompanied by hypnotic chanting vocals, to flow amidst their sound. It is unfortunate that, except for the entirely-acoustic “Dominium Noctis (Conventum Et Striga),” these moments seem fleetingly sparse. The band seems to finally hit its stride on the closing full-length song, “To The Forgotten (The Nature Speaks),” which opens with some promising double base and effective guitar chainsawing, eventually leading its way into some ear-catching riffs and clean vocals. With more effective Metal ingredients such as these and a larger integration of the softer aspects of the music, the album could have been something great. As it stands, “Dominium Noctis” is adequate; nothing more, but nothing less.
(Online August 18, 2007)