If you were surprised by the originality of The Painter's Palette, Ephel Duath's previous release, wait until you give their new platter a full listen. This is a mindblowing and incredibly well crafted album. Davide Tiso has put together a new disc that is at times deliberately pretentious yet everything is so meticulously expressed and performed that there is nothing to complain about. From the schizophrenic mood prevalant on the entire album to the dark and swift song arrangements, Pain Necessary to Know is a very powerful statement that treads the dangerous line between fluid jazz and skull-crushing metal. Though there are fewer brass instruments this time around, the band's jazz explorations go far deeper utilising every element the genre has to offer and blending them together with the band's trademark scream vocal ferocity and avant-garde approach.
As its predecessor, the new album is also a disc that could be likened to Mr Bungle, Zappa, and John Zorn. The music presented here is still very spontaneous and littered with ever-changing drum and bass patterns. Furthermore, there is an evident Dillinger Escape Plan touch prevalent that renders Pain Necessary to Know even more immediate and aggressive. The amount of clean vocals has noticeably decreased; actually they would be almost nonexistent had it not been for "I Killed Rebecca", a jazz drum charged piece with siren-like wailing guitars, harrowing whispers during a dark acoustic passage that precedes a very cluttered and multi-layered instrumental section. The song even has some industrial tendencies offered in small segments - incredibly experimental to say the least. All songs are punctuated with a cold, desolate atmosphere; the churning guitar chords quickly develop into explosive walls of sound along with a drummer that is exceptionally talented when it comes to filling the songs with crashing cymbal sounds and remarkable polyrhythms. It's a shame that Davide Piovesan has decided to leave the band after recording his parts. Let's hope the guys find a competent replacement, however unlikely it seems at this point.
The bass guitars on the album are equally compelling. From the blasting bass attack on the oddly guitar-tuned "Vector, Third Movement" to the ever-present funky lines on "Pleonasm", Fabio Fecchio has truly outdone himself. He is showcasing every aspecting of his abilities, and has a great ear for arrangement as no single note is wasted or comes off excessive. Always in perfect harmony with the drums, he knows when to show restraint or dive into a frenzied instrumental section that, despite its overly challenging nature, sounds more palatable than his prior works. Needless to say, the main man behind Ephel Duath, guitarist Davide Tiso, makes his presence felt all over the album. Tiso fuses some of the songs with weird guitar tunings and effects but disguises them with subtle synth layers or a blare of brass instruments. He doesn't necessarily explore long, drawn-out guitar solos; he is more forthright this time. Yet, he never fails to inject each and every song with bizarre timings and odd rhythmic groupings, drawing from a vast Zappa library along the way. The eerie chord progressions on "Few Stars, No Refrain and A Cigarette" offer a slower and sweeter guitar tone, rather than single-minded guitar fury. There is a brilliant percussion beat going on deep down in the mix covered with echoing guitars, a circular bass solo, and intense kick drums. Towards the end of the tune, Tiso's guitars spirial into bone-crushing and laser-precise minor chords that are difficult to follow on first listen. It's simply astonishing.
Of special note is the "Vector" trilogy, a long-form composition divided into three parts and scattered through the disc in random order. Try listening to these parts one after the other and if it doesn't impress you beyond words then I don't know what will. The middle chapter, "Vector, Second Movement", is the only instrumental number on the album, and quite possibly the album's most atmospheric track. From dissonant chords to frantic jazz drums and a very non-Ephel Duath-ish middle section, the song is sealed with a happy-go guitar melody that is characterized by classic Zappa playfulness. The album has a running time of merely 38 minutes, but each minute overflows with intense musicianship and interesting ideas, so most fans should be pleased. If you are also an Ephel Duath fan, be excited. Be very excited. They have returned with a mind melting paradigm.
- New Disorder
- Vector, Third Movement
- Few Stars, No Refrain and A Cigarette
- Crystalline Whirl
- I Killed Rebecca
- Vector, Second Movement