Akphaezya: Anthology IV- The Tragedy of Nerak
I normally worry at the prospect of a large concept album. Sometimes they work really well, as demonstrated by bands like Pink Floyd or Queensryche; at other times, though, they may look great or have an interesting idea, but fall flat musically, leaving listeners disappointed, wondering what might have been. As I approached The Tragedy of Nerak I hoped that my experience would be positive, that the story would be engaging, and the music captivating. I was not disappointed. The Tragedy of Nerak is a fascinating, sometimes weird, recording that blends together sounds ranging from conventional heavy metal, jazz, and folksy sounds that, I assume, are inspired by Greek music.
I can't tell you the story of The Tragedy of Nerak. I don't have all the lyrics in front of me and I haven't come to understand exactly all the words I'm hearing so far. The promotional materials simply indicate that this is a work that seeks to develop a theatrical recording that draws on the basic elements of Greek tragedy in order to tell its larger story. The song titles provide a clue to the basic structure: notice how they draw on conventional tragic components such as "Hubris" (or Pride) and "Nemesis" (the general name for a challenge to the protagonist's fortunes). Notice, too, the contrasting titles "Utopia" and "Dystopia" with their evocations of the rise and fall of ideal communities. Whatever the exact plot, it clearly doesn't end well--the album concludes with "The Harsh Verdict" a nearly 10 minute opus that should bring to mind the inevitable difficulties that plague tragic figures. I am very interested to know whether Akphaezya will take The Tragedy of Nerak on the road and whether they will play the album in its entirety. They should; it would certainly make for an unforgettable evening.
I mentioned above that the music on The Tragedy of Nerak is sometimes weird. I meant it. I'm thinking especially of the way certain songs ("Utopia" is an important example) move toward upbeat dance-like numbers that sound more suited for musical theater than heavy metal. Normally I'd argue that such tracks simply don't work, but I can't do that this time. I loved the musical diversity of this album. It draws on so many musical styles, meters, and moods so well that I can only suggest that it is pushing the boundaries of heavy metal in positive directions. Take a listen, for example, to the strange-but-effective blend of jazz and metal on "Hubris," or the beautiful and mellow piano on "Transe" for something of the range this work offers. The Tragedy of Nerak is surprising and unconventional, but also delightful, heavy, and fascinating. I would recommend it to anyone, but with the caveat that listeners get through it in one sitting and that they let it work its magic gradually.
2. A Slow Vertigo
10. The Harsh Verdict
Added: January 29th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
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