Persefone have long been one of the best kept secrets in progressive metal, with their latest album Aathma being their fifth release in a career that dates back to 2001. Hailing from little known Andorra, a microstate somewhere between Spain and France, the band have been fairly busy on the European live circuit over the years but are still relatively unknown here in North America. That might all change with Aathma, which comes four years after Spiritual Migration, and sees a new line-up that includes Marc Martins (Vocals), Carlos Lozano (Guitars), Miguel Espinosa (Keyboards, vocals), Tony Mestre (Bass), Sergi Verdeguer (Drums), and Filipe Baldaia (Guitars). Mixed and mastered by none other than Jens Bogren in Fascination Street Studios in Sweden, Aathma is a powerful, incredible sounding album, packed with stellar musical performances, adventurous arrangements, and intelligent songwriting.Toss in some great artwork from the acclaimed Travis Smith and you have a must own progressive extreme metal album.
I added 'progressive extreme metal' album for a reason; at its core, Aathma is a straight up prog-metal album, but the band throw in some growling death metal vocals and more aggressive musical passages that give an extreme metal edge in many spots, which ultimately offers up a heaping amount of variety during the album. It's also quite an original sounding album, and while the band certainly have been influenced by Opeth, Dream Theater, Between the Buried & Me, Enslaved, and Pain of Salvation, they really do have their own style. The musicianship throughout is stellar, especially the blazing guitar work of Lozano & Baldai, who lay down some crushing riffage and technical lead solos, as well as the nimble keyboards courtesy of Espinosa. The rhythm team also do a dynamite job, and it's great to actually hear the bass so prominent in the mix like you do here; just check out Mestre rumbling along on the energetic "No Faced Mindless" alongside intricate guitar/keyboard passages and dueling clean & growling vocals. Cynic legend Paul Masvidal appears as a guest on "Living West", his vocals and guitar work unmistakable, while the breathtaking "Stillness is Timeless" seamlessly blends technical death metal with soaring melodic prog rock to great effect. The album climaxes with the 20-minute, four part title track, an epic of grand proportions, Persefone once again brilliantly blending gorgeous melodies and stunning progressive rock soundscapes with sledgehammer extreme metal. The keyboard orchestrations and guitar work is superb, and a lot of credit needs to be given to Martins as well, whose array of vocal styles (alongside Espinosa of course) works so well on this titanic track. Drummer Verdeguer also puts in an all-star performance, his acrobatic skills a joy to listen to as he keeps up with the mind bending guitar solos on the daring "Aathma II: Spiritual Bliss". Merethe Soltvedt lends her gorgeous vocals to the closing "Aathma IV: Many Of One"...beautiful stuff.
When it's all said and done, Aathma is going to be one of the progressive metal albums that's going to be hard to beat here in 2017. This is essential listening for anyone who likes a healthy dose of prog in their extreme metal...get it now!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. An Infinitesimal Spark
2. One Of Many
3. Prison Skin
4. Spirals Within Thy Being
5. Cosmic Walkers
6. No Faced Mindless
7. Living Waves
9. Stillness Is Timeless
10. Aathma I: Universal Oneness
11. Aathma II: Spiritual Bliss
12. Aathma III: One With The Light
13. Aathma IV: Many Of One