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Ecnephias - The Sad Wonder Of The Sun (2017) - Review

Band: Ecnephias
Album title: The Sad Wonder Of The Sun
Release date: 7 July 2017
Label: My Kingdom Music

01. Gitana
02. Povo De Santo
03. Sad Summer Night
04. The Lamp
05. Nouvelle Orleans
06. A Stranger
07. Quimbanda
08. Maldiluna
09. You

One of the most interesting bands coming from Italy must be long runners Ecnephias, who formed back in 1996, and after their origins in black/extreme metal, often spiced up with kind of Mediterranean scent, they made a huge turn into the more traditional gothic metal waters with their seminal album released in 2015. Ok, already the album, Necrogod, released in 2013, although being still extreme, marked quite a departure from their typical early black metal side, but now with their new offering, The Sad Wonder Of The Sun, the band seems to have found their new steady ground within gothic metal with their own mix of lets say traditional gothic metal, occult rock, gothic rock, some doom metal, decadent rock and darkwave, always flavoured with kind of their own Mediterranean seasoning and certain unconventional additions.

The Sad Wonder Of The Sun is already the sixth full-lenght for Ecnephias, and if their previous album showed the band which wants to explore new dimensions in dark metal, even if being under strong influence of big names of gothic/dark metal from 90s, now they made absolutely their most mature and original album to date. Already with the first couple of listens these nine tracks sound quite light and in a way romantically immersive, yet it is obvious that Ecnephias in 2017 are firmly on the solid ground, full of self-confidence in what they are doing and they are doing it just great. This is in my opinion one of those album that shows us that the last words in gothic metal haven't been said yet. If Moonspell had a great impact on their previous work, this time the band, even though that the resemblances with great acts of this scene like Tiamat, Paradise Lost, Moonspell, Type O Negative, Fields Of The Nephilim, The Sisters Of Mercy, even Rotting Christ (era A Dead Poem) and surprissingly also Joy Division at some parts, are all there, Ecnephias created kind of their own sound which is highly dynamic, captivating and accessible.

Ecnephias' sound is deeply marked by Mancan's deep evocative and dark voice with kind of a Mediterranean scent, like we are used to hear for example from Fernando of Moonspell on Darkness And Hope. Also when he goes a bit harsh here and there his voice still sounds suitable for this kind of music. As well the rest of the band members with great instrumentations do a perfect job. There are plenty of great guitar riffs, throughout catchy melodies, some addictive acoustic guitars and mesmerizing leads that are similar to what we were used to appreciate in 80s heavy metal or hard rock bands. Strong rhythmic line and atmospheric yet very versatile keys which are creating kind of a mystical occult aura are just a cherry on the cake in this opus.

The album opens up with "Gitana", a track which in a way connects this and their previous album. It's a strong track with highly evocative atmosphere, great gothy synths and strong catchy rhythm. Then "Povo De Santo" offers one of the most addictive refrains you've ever had a chance to hear from Ecnephias. Actually all of the tracks have something unique inside them, are highly dynamic, with some impressive pace changes and tiny extras like acoustic lines, some electronic samples, female vocals in before mentioned "Povo De Santo", sung by Raffaella Cangero (La Janara), and special atmospheric passages that are simply hypnotic. Just listen for example to the almost epic creation named "Sad Summer Night" to find out how Ecnephias are able to make such a flowing sound by using many different additions, inserting catchy pop melodies and mixing it up with some southern darkness and doom metal that I'm sure it will attract also the most demanding listeners. Just listen to the lead guitar in this one, it's so very nostalgic that it brings some shivery feelings.

It's not difficult to guess which track is the most interesting one, this title goes without any doubts to the exotic "Nouvelle Orleans". It's simply impressive how the band is able to mix kind of a 70s disco with danceable trippy reggae rhythm, darkwave and and crushing heavy/doom guitars into one hell of a nicely undulating river of sound. Ok, some of the tracks are not reaching towards the stars like others, for example in the second half of the album we can find the darkest one "A Stranger", then also the one with partial lyrics in Italian language, a vibrant "Quimbanda", or rather mellow finisher "You", are not really fillers, but still not to be overpraised, still good though, but that's a normal thing, and thankfully Ecnephias don't make huge mistakes in here with some pretentious insertions and out of line tracks. All this things are just some of the facts that shows us how very talented and experienced musicians these guys are. The album approaches the end with a mesmerizing and very melancholic "Maldiluna" which is enriched with some very intriguing yet rich murky ambiances.

The Sad Wonder Of The Sun is an album that should be consumed in a relaxed enviroment, I can imagine listening to it somewhere near to the Mediterranean coast, while drinking some good vine and sitting in a comfortable armchair. If this album would be released 10 or 20 years ago it would be a cult classic by now, but sadly with todays rather uninterest in this scene by major part of metal fans, only the time will tell what kind of exposure it will get. I hope for the best, because it's an attractive above average work of dark musical art. Even though that the production could be a bit more powerfull, with some more depth, it's not bad at all, and overall most of the things are done just like if were done by some big names with big budgets. Ecnephias with their last two albums have become really obscure, melancholic and The Sad Wonder Of The Sun is at the same time the most catchy and powerful music they have ever recorded. It is Mediterranean dark metal at its best, sounding more gothic, murky and darker than ever.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8,5/10


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