Nephren-Ka – La Grande Guerre de L’Epice (Dolorem Records)Thursday, 5th October 2017
France’s Nephren-Ka made a name for themselves by coming out of the gate and diving headfirst into Frank Herbert’s Dune as their underlying concept for 2013’s The Fall of Omnius. Continuing said devotion, it’s been four years for the follow-up to come in the form of La Grande Guerre de L’Epice. It’s safe to expect more of the same from the band’s brutal death metal ethos.
While the first thing that may come to mind given the band’s name is that of Nile, the most predominant influence here is that of Origin. The frantic pacing, the technical but not completely bonkers riffing and melodies, and forceful growls all trace their way back into Nephren-Ka’s sound. It goes without say, that the band tends to hang in the uber-fast tempos for much of the album. Hearing a track or two is bound to incite a large adrenaline burst and knock you back due to the sheer brutality of it all. But outside of that, nothing really tends to stand out. There is the Candlemass cover (“Mirror Mirror”), where a few background clean vocals are used and the band veers away from too much speed, but the rest tend to bank on that blitzkrieg tempo to get the point across. While it’s interesting that they utilize the Dune influences, but nothing really shows musically – as mentioned, you might even mistake this for an Origin release if heard out of context. Death metal purists may commend the act for sticking to their guns and only adding the extra on the lyrical side, but it does limit the overall relevance of it.
Nephren-Ka deliver some completely frantic and brutal death metal, though it suffers a bit from being relatively indistinguishable from some of their peers. For a straight fix of speed, many will cling to it for dear life. However, if you want more than adrenaline, this one is still a work in progress.