Album Title: Lingua Ignota: Part I
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 2 February 2024
Receiving one score in the high 90s could be put down to a bit of luck, the stars aligning to produce a special record. But to achieve two of these scores on the bounce means that there’s something about the musical entity that’s special, not just the albums that emerge. This is most definitely true of Andorran metal band Persefone, who achieved glowing reviews from me for ‘Aathma’ back in 2017 and for 2022’s follow-up ‘Metanoia’.
Both remain on regular rotation, and why wouldn’t they? For my tastes, Persefone deliver a fantastic blend of progressive metal with death metal with other extreme tendencies. But what then takes the band to the next level is their ability to inject a fair amount of melody into their compositions, which consistently takes my enjoyment to the highest level. I like extreme music as much as the next person, but I also like to hear a tune, or something truly memorable within the music that’d otherwise just pummel me into submission. Persefone are the band that delivers.
Unfortunately, the sextet have experienced their fair share of bad luck along the way and they still remain criminally underrated. Since the release of ‘Metanoia’, the curse struck the Andorrans yet again with the last-minute forced cancellation of a US tour alongside Ne Obliviscaris and Beyond Creation. Then, soon after, they suffered the departure of vocalist Marc Martins, albeit in an amicable fashion.
Thankfully, Persefone are made of strong stuff and, armed with a new vocalist in the shape of Daniel Rodriguez Flys, they return in 2024 with ‘Lingua Ignota:Part I’, the first of apparently two new EPs, although a release date for the second has yet to be announced. I say ‘EP’ only because that’s how it is described in the accompanying press release. But, comprised of five tracks and a run-time of over 26 minutes, it’s really not that far off being a full album, certainly by general death/extreme metal standards. The decision to release a couple of shorter affairs might actually be a bit of a masterstroke for Persefone, too, as I’ve heard many a person comment that music of this ilk can be a little too intense to digest over longer periods. By breaking things up a little, it might be just the answer, and could help the band to reach a whole new audience, or at least to work harder on those who may have been on the fence previously.
Personally, I’ll take new music from Persefone in whatever way I can so, EP or full album, let me at it, and let me wrap my ears around it.
Of greatest concern for me and others leading up to this release was the performance of the new vocalist given how integral Martins was to Persefone’s sound, his gruff growls adding a layer of aggressive intensity to an already intense soundscape. Would a new vocalist match up? The answer, as is immediately evident on the opening intro track, ‘Sounds And Vessels’, is yes, he does. Growls aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but as a lover of them, I am more than satisfied with Daniel Rodríguez Flys. The cinematic track that grows from nothing into a post-apocalyptic, electronic-infused affair at the hands of keyboardist Miguel ‘Moe’ Espinosa features some seriously powerful growls, sounding full of passionate anger and aggression, deliberately and forcefully announcing himself as the new voice of the band.
What becomes evident within the ensuing track, the stupendous ‘One Word’, is that Flys offers more than just growls too, with his voice able to provide a quasi-clean approach that gives the central chorus to this track an added epic quality. In fact, as melodically charged as previous albums have been, for my money, this song takes things up another notch as it’s an immediate bulldozer of a song that hits hard with a fabulous blend of heavy and accessible material. The guitar work of Carlos Lozano and Filipe Baldaia is sharp and incisive as we’ve come to expect, working in harmony with drummer Sergi ‘Bobby’ Verdeguer and bassist Toni Mestre to create some mind-bending angular rhythms and stop-start beats. But the melody is just so impassioned and huge when it hits, that it becomes the inarguable centrepiece of the song.
Next up is ‘The Equable’ which may divide some older fans because it continues with the melodic and accessible side of the band over and above some of the technical aspects just a little. Personally, I lap this song up because it really is stunningly beautiful, with clean and gruff vocals sparring atop lush, catchy melodies and a soaring chorus that raises goosebumps all across my skin as I listen. That’s not to say that the track doesn’t have some technicality to it, because it does for sure. But so smooth are the transitions, so gorgeous is the lead guitar solo that emerges after the halfway mark, that ‘The Equable’ just feels so easy and effortless.
The title track is the longest on the EP at seven-and-a-half minutes and it spends that time wisely. It’s great to hear a brief acoustic guitar at the outset, even if it is flattened by some heavy as hell riffing and drumming within a few seconds. The first half of the song features some of the most accomplished musicianship on the EP, with constantly evolving riffs, a plethora of embellishments from guitars, bass, and drums alike, and some intriguing synth sounds to add depth and texture. The second half sees the composition get more memorable and ‘epic’ with dual vocals combining to stunning effect but not before building from a gentle acoustic and clean vocal section. It just creates an even more bruising and effective conclusion that delights me thanks to the heavy riffs, double-pedal drumming, and elegant mix of gruff and clean vocals.
The final track, ‘Abyssal Communication’ ensures that the EP ends in a quieter manner, dominated by the synths of Espinosa alongside the melancholy clean vocals of Flys. Do I detect an element of Leprous worship in this song? I think so, and that gives you an idea about the dark, atmospheric vibe that permeates, drawing the EP to a contemplative close.
I won’t belabour my conclusion here; instead I’ll just state what you have already guessed. ‘Lingua Ignota: Part I’ is a superb body of work that shows a slightly more melodic side to Persefone without ever seeking to sacrifice their technical abilities and their penchant to hit listeners hard with their dense, intense, and magnificent take on extreme progressive metal. Bring on ‘Part II’, and quickly, I implore you.
The Score of Much Metal: 94%