Technical Extreme progressive metal band Persefone were formed in the small country of Andorra in 2001 by guitarist and vocalist Carlos Lozano, bass player Toni Mestre, second guitarist Jordi Gorgues Mateu and drummer Xavi Pére. A year later the band added keyboard player Miguel Espinosa to the line-up. Persefone combines melodies and complex compositions with a substantial amount of aggression. In 2004 Marc Martins took over the vocal position of Carlos and the fine combination of Marc's harsh vocal parts and Miguel's clean melodic voice became a sort of trademark for the band.
Over the years, Persefone has seen some line-up changes, but the music remained technical, brutal and still embracing a melodic touch. Sometimes, traditional instrumental elements were added to Persefone's music and also atmospheric parts were added to compensate for the brutal power. Their previous release; Spiritual Migration was the ultimate combination of strong soundscapes and brutalness. Their latest release; Aathma in some ways sees the continuation of both styles, and has their moments of tranquillity in the instrumental tracks like Vacuum, Cosmic Walkers and the opener An Infinitesimal Spark. Prison Skin is a very fine track, where Marcs harsh vocals stand out and, in combination with the melodic elements of the keyboards and the double bass drums, forms a solid unity. But I guess the continuing Spirals Within Thy Being has become one of my personal favourites of the album; riffs, piano, keyboards, all ingredients for a strong progressive metal song. this is one of the two tracks that could appeal to the regular progressive metal fan, who can bare Marc's tremendous screams and growls. Textures must have been in mind when this track was written. The other favourite is the track Living Waves, where ambient parts introduce guest vocalist and guitarist Paul Masvidal of Cynic and Death fame. Musically this track is the perfect fusion of powerful metal and ambient modern parts. A song I can play all day without getting bored of it. Another strong progressive metal track with screams and all, is the nine and a half minute lasting Stillness Is Timeless. A track that again, like all compositions, shows what an incredible fine guitar player Carlos Lozano is. The growls and grunts are kept to a minimum here, making this another track to try if the harsh stuff hasn't landed in your head yet. The piece d' resistance of the album is the final track; Aathma, which is divided in four segments. All ingredients come together during this twenty minutes lasting epic. Smooth soundscapes, strong melodies, piano, tons of keyboards and of course brilliant guitar playing. Miguel's clean voice is the perfect counterpart for Marc's harsh parts and newcomer Sergi Verdeguer proves he is a very adequate drummer. Part three of the song; One With The Light sees a guitar solo of former Leprous guitarist Řystein Landsverk.
Again Persefone has taken another step. I loved the previous album, but in my opinion the compositions are even better, the musical skills are impeccable and the combination of both vocalists is quite amazing. Where I pointed out some highlight earlier, I have to admit the rest of the tracks isn't that far away from those and basically Aathma is an album with just amazing music. Together with Pain Of Salvation's In The Passing Light Of Day, one of my musical highlights this year so far!
***** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Dave Smith)
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