|« Let us approach Sumphokéras – mythical city of Euthymeians – centuries after the legend. Now time has no reason to exist anymore.”|
This is where tales become music. The French band Amphitryon has some great ambitions, this oozes in quite a showy way, I must say, in the booklet and the dvd that go along with the cd album of their show ‘Drama’ which the band has obligingly sent me. The concept seems to be the linchpin around which the whole musical enterprise is carefully built. I’ll sum it up roughly (as I didn’t understand a lot of it): this would be the story of a mythological world, a story of angry gods, cast-away races and occult rituals. Anyway, if you heard of ancient greek myths, of The Lord of the Rings’dark universe, you should get an idea of the complex and violent poetry Amphitryon use as a background for its musical developments.
’Drama’ is the visual extention of their previous album ’Sumphokιras’. My copy is a deluxe digipack containing, as I said, both DVD and CD. On the DVD, you can see a whole show the band gave before an audience quietly sitting before a small scene artistically decorated with long yellow draperies and expertly lit up. The overall ambience, the way the shadows and spots of light are distributed, build a fitting mysterious atmosphere. That live performance has also been burnt on CD. Don’t be afraid, the sound is top notch.
To the music, now. What we have here is a blend of various genres: Doom, Death, Gothic, melancolic Metal. There’s a silly term for that kind of moods a band like Amphitryon displays: Dark Metal (not the – genuine- one of Bethlehem, obviously). Well, whatever the precise genre, Amphitryon achieve something quite exciting with ‘Drama’. Their Doom flirts with Gothic Metal patterns: male growls intersect with two female ethereal and even sometimes quite authoritative voices. Add some more somber and languid choirs, and from Gothic, you could well enter a more baroque set.
Indeed, Drama hasn’t any of the syrupy and despondent accents of Gothic Metal. The melancolic bursts are rare enough and the various experimentations unsettling enough to use that adjective: baroque. Baroque in all the weirdness, all the spiritual aspirations and the overwhelming grandiloquence it can have.
Amphitryon shift from dark and hectic assaults to gloomy ambiant passages, from savage guitar patterns – heavy and kind of stubborn riffing (the bass is very active all along what I like), blasts, wild hoarse grunts - to insistent parts that sound as taken from an underground oratorio – mixed choirs, gentle guitar picking, furtive sounds floating on air....
I’ll look into the ninth track – ‘Phthonèros daìmon’ - to let you understand the main originality of the album: the voices. On that song, all the vocal effects used by the band are present: soft voices, some ethnic droning chants, creakings and rattles, quavering groans, grunts, cacophonous mumbles. You understand 'Drama' has been conceived as an opera based on a cryptic libretto. I’ll repeat myself, I don’t understand the beginning of it, but I can percieve the deep meaning of the intentions. As far as we talking about music and emotions, I don’t need more.
This all sounds like a wild elegy. There is that kind of underground tensions, a canvas full of contradictions and tumultous movements where the voices come and tell us their cosmic story. I sometimes think of Virgin Black while listening to 'Drama'. Like the Australian band, this is melodramatic as hell! Dark, subtle, occult, Baylonian if I dare say, Amphitryon deserve to be listened to. If you’re into Virgin Black, Garden of Gehenna and the likes, I can only recommend you to give it a listen.
1.The Cycle of Ephapsaménée
4.Cadence of the rowers
8.Paths of dementia
Duration : Approx. 47 minutes
Visit the Amphitryon bandpage.