Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ysengrin: To Endotaton (2012)

A Huge Shift

A year ago, I reviewed Tragedies – Liber Hermetis, the second album from the French band Ysengrin. It was fairly unremarkable death/doom with some blackened influence, but had such excellent production that it was well worth listening anyway. Their new record doesn’t even sound like the work of the same band, despite the fact they’ve had no lineup changes.

To Endotaton is not produced nearly as well, though it’s by no means a poor job. This time, it's the production that's unremarkable. The music, on the other hand, is much more interesting. Instead of death/doom, this time around it’s mostly a dark sort of heavy/doom metal, with some very cool heavy metal riffs. The vocals are still death growls, with the occasional spoken/chanted piece (mixed a bit too loud). There are other things at play here, such as the keyboard which sounds as if it were manned partly by King Diamond and partly by John Carpenter, some bluesy guitar noodling in one part, and the black/Viking metal section at the end.

The music has far more variety than its predecessor. The mix of styles is compelling, and the riffs are far more memorable. However, that contrasts with how they’ve packaged it. The record is a single 40 minute track, the implication being that it is a single song. That’s partly true; there is an extremely compelling riff that they do come back to several times. But mostly it’s disconnected pieces that, while cohesive enough as an album, don’t really sound like the same song. There is a clear break in the music halfway through, and the last five minutes are definitely not the same song.

The incredibly long single-song gimmick is tolerable when it’s genuine, as with some of Corrupted’s or Rorcal’s work. But even classical symphonies tend to be separated into more digestible movements. When it’s really and truly a gimmick, as here, it detracts quite a bit from the experience.

In the long run, though, you can split it into 4 smaller pieces when you put it in your music library. Might I suggest breaks around 11:28, 20:15, and 34:12. And it really is quite the good listen.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars

Buy To Endotaton
I, Voidhanger

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