When thinking of a band that gets its name from the Tolkien Legendarium, particularly the mountain range that borders to black land of Mordor, the usual visions of pale Norwegian fellows clad in corpse paint and black tank tops come to mind. Avant-garde Jazz Metal is not usually associated with such fantasy-based imagery, nor are electronic remix albums of said music. However, these unexpected surprises are what make EPHEL DUATH interesting, if not entirely comprehensible. The band’s newest release, “Pain Remixes The Known” is, as the title suggests, a collection of remixes from 2005’s “Pain Necessary To Know.” The music here bears only a passing resemblance to the chaotic, time signature-melting Metal (if it can even be called that) of the band’s proper full-lengths, but that is something to be grateful for on a remix album. Oftentimes, such projects seem like throwaways, done as cash-grabs and in little time as possible. Not so here.
There are a wide range of soundscapes on “Pain Remixes The Known,” from the quiet beats and hypnotic bassline in “Halo VI,” to the manic techno of “Halo I.” Many songs shift moods several times, with the aforementioned “Halo VI” featuring vocals that are at times calm and relaxed, then change to distorted and cacophonous noise without warning. Fans of the band and of electronic music in general will probably find a lot to enjoy here. For others, like the rest of EPHEL DUATH’s catalogue, it is probably worth a listen, but will not get repeated spins.
(Online November 11, 2007)