Two years after my first contact with Italian ECNEPHIAS, the quartet around vocalist and guitarist Mancan is back with an EP titled “Haereticus” and the tasty mixture of Black and Doom Metal had hit quite the right taste buds for me back then, so I was looking forward to what the Potenza folks are up to these days. While not being groundbreaking, they still were offering us a good mix of genres that catered to quite a few fans out there.
After the chanted intro “De Natura Deorum” the title track sets off well within the Symphonic Black Metal realm with keyboards and raspy vocals, over good parts operating in the higher tempos, but also slowing things down to piano and half spoken, half whispered vocals and then a very expressive and almost sacral choir, before the blastbeats return, especially when they tune down the heaviness/speed a little, this is seriously good stuff, when they step on the pedal, they lose some of their appeal, though, sounding more like the myriad of other bands out there following down a similar path. Here and there I even feel reminded a little of the Portuguese of MOONSPELL, when Mancan’s voice takes on this almost conjuring character and the music has a slightly more pompous feel to it (see “Deviations”), which might not exactly be original per se, but definitely has more substance, which is strengthened by the short cleanly sung passage.
“Hills On A Desert” probably best showcases the amalgamation of Black and Doom Metal and is my personal highlight of the EP, also thanks to the again almost church-like atmosphere that some passages have and which really give ECNEPHIAS this extra edge to stand out from the crowd and which I would personally like to see used more often, while at the same time the non-descript blastbeat sections should be reduced in order to give the band a character of its own overall, because that is exactly, when they truly shine, see the already mentioned intro and the brilliant outro “Ave Maestro”.
ECNEPHIAS definitely are a very interesting band, with the exception of the mentioned flaws, and they might be on a very good way of finding their very own style and excelling in it, so if they do what I’d like them to, the next album might be an absolute killer. But still the EP is recommendable to anyone into the realms of Black and Doom Metal (preferably together).
(Online March 31, 2009)