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Persefone: Metanoia

Nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains, the tiny European nation of Andorra is home to one of the brightest lights in the extreme progressive death metal firmament. Persefone are a band that has long deserved to be recognized for their abilities as they have already carved out a strong lineage of outstanding albums. Each one only improving from one to the next in ever-increasing excellence. With Persefone active since 2001, Metanoia is the band's sixth installment to their great catalog and sees them continue to push forward in the evolution of their sound and approach to songwriting.

Persefone started out as something resembling an extreme metal version of progressive titans like Symphony X with their first album, 2004’s, Truth Inside The Shades, which the band actually fully re-recorded for its 15th anniversary last year and was one of my favorite albums of 2020. Continuing on with the evolution through 2007’s Core and 2009’s Shin-ken, however it was 2013’s Spiritual Migration that really made a lot of people sit up and take notice. Especially within the fanbase of more extreme and technical death metal. With Spiritual Migration, Persefone started to find a sound that would be refined and perfected further on 2017’s steller album Aathma, which also happens to be one of my all time favorite albums. That ultimately brings us to Metanoia and once again the bar that Persefone have set for themselves has been raised to new heights.

Metanoia begins with the beautiful and transcendent title track which has an outstanding emotion-filled vocal performance leading the way. I can’t verify this but if I was to guess I’d say the singer from the band Leprous, Einar Solberg is the one delivering it, making a guest appearance. During most of the songs on Metanoia there are touches of electronic music laced sparingly throughout. Just enough to add to the tension building, however never so much as to remove the raw human sound of a band at full power. The title track builds masterfully and explodes into “Katabasis” with it’s ferocious riffing and now trademark Persefone complex rhythmic grooves. Persefone are one the best bands in extreme metal at writing these kinds of memorable grooves and hard hitting jagged riffs. The song has all the powerful ingredients that fans of Persefone have come to know and love. The great dynamic feel as I’ve already mentioned, the aggressive death growls from Marc Martins Pia, the soaring and fantastically uplifting clean vocals from keyboardist and singer Miguel Espinosa Ortiz, who also provides the expansive symphonic keyboard textures along with other electronic sounds which serve to lend the whole album an epic grandeur that is unmatched.

Lyrically the album seems to be once again tackling themes of self discovery and the exploration of the soul. This is very much reflected in the flow of the music itself. Like it’s predecessor Metanoia feels very much like a whole experience from start to finish with sublime beauty mixed with fierce aggression. The music perhaps reflects influences from bands like the aforementioned Leprous as well as Soen, Ihsahn and Cynic. However they have very much created their own sound. This sonic journey feels very much like you are traveling through someone's spiritual evolution but from the inside. Experiencing all the twists and turns first hand along the way. “Architecture of I” kills once again then leads into the epic instrumental, “Leap Of Faith” which builds from soft and contemplative into something gigantic in its cinematic scale and emotional reach. “Aware Of Being Watched” is another thrilling ride jam packed with more innovative rhythms, electronica, powerful and captivating vocals and a ripping guitar solo. Actually it’s worth noting that on all their previous albums there have been a lot more guitar solos all over the place yet here they are fewer and more far between. Normally I’d be disappointed by that because Carlos Lozano Quintanilla and Filipe Baldaia are both top tier players, however I didn’t even notice it until I heard the album several times. Here the focus is far more on the overall composition and the emotional impact that it will illicit.

Following on from “Leap of Faith” comes the first single “Merkabah” and again the band hits it right out of the park here. Pure perfection. They then return to the two part song “Consciousness” from the Spiritual Migration album for a third installment. Of course it stays faithful to the first two parts but they manage to make it even more epic and powerful. Finally Metanoia finishes with a 3 part extended suite of songs called “Anabasis” and again we are taken from serene beauty to extreme explosive power and back again. Another grand statement of Persefone’s ever growing powers. The music on Metanoia conjures up imagery of someone meditating on the edge of an ice cliff in Antarctica but with the cinematic scope of Lawrence of Arabia.

As I mentioned already their previous album Aathma is one of my favorite albums so I was very much anticipating this release with excitement and also nerves about how the guys could possibly top that album. I’m overjoyed to say that Metanoia has not only lived up to my expectations but has surpassed them. Metanoia is a perfect album from top to bottom. It does everything they are known for and more and to the highest possible level. The production is pristine and the performances are magnificent all around. Any fans of progressive metal in any form should definitely get this album. I would be surprised if Metanoia isn’t my album of the year for 2022 by year's end. A truly masterful and transcendent album from a band that deserves to breakthrough with this masterpiece.

Carlos Lozano Quintanilla- Guitar
Miguel Espinosa Ortiz -Keyboards, Vocals
Sergi Verdeguer Moyano -Drums
Toni Mestre Coy -Bass
Marc Martins Pia- Vocals
Filipe Baldaia -Guitar

1 Metanoia
2 Katabasis
3 Architecture of the I
4 Leap of Faith
5 Aware of Being Watched
6 Merkabah
7 Consciousness (Pt.3)
8 Anabasis Pt1
9 Anabasis Pt2
10 Anabasis Pt3

Added: March 2nd 2022
Reviewer: Benjamin Dudai
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 612
Language: english

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