Released on June 8th, Taphos’ debut album is a contender to be taken into consideration by rival metal groups who play within the same subgenre. Its raw, brutal, and has everything you can expect from a death metal release.
So far, 2018 has been an amazing year for death metal. You’ve got Ripped to Shreds, Torture Rack, Cist, Skeletal Remains, Tomb Mold, the list goes on… Taphos’ following praise should resonate even further in consideration of this year’s other strong releases.
Taphos is a four-man group that first emerged from Denmark’s deep dark crypts with a 2016 demo. The group has followed this up with another demo and an EP, but Come Ethereal Somberness is the quartet’s first landmark release as a band; and what a strong one it is.
The release’s themes pertain to death, a struggling human condition, and general darkness. While certainly vague, this is intentional as Come Ethereal Somberness is shrouded in a stagnant air of mysteriousness which results mostly from the unique dialect used for some of the song titles. Song titles like “Letum”, “Livores”, and “Dysfori” do not pertain to any specific language from what I could research, but rather derive from established mythical entities and terms. Letum is the Roman personification of death which compares to similar characters such as the Greek Thanatos who represents a loss of life. Similarly, “Dysfori” is presumably a reference to dysphoria, a general feeling of unease and dissatisfaction. The terms used on the record are presumably changed to reflect a Latin-sounding dialect, but I am not quite sure as there is not a lot of information about this release online; this is all my speculation. Either way, Come Ethereal Somberness is a mysterious and resonant effort that really takes you away from the tangible world as you plunge into the abyss. Let’s look at some of my favourite tracks on the release.
Thrive in Upheaval
This track is by far the most full-throttle and driven slot on the record. Right off the bat, “Thrive in Upheaval” opens with two echoed and bestial short screams which are followed with an absolutely filthy, boneshaking yell that resonates in accordance to the blast beats and the guitars in the background. This maniacal intro is further emphasized by the transition from the prior track “Impending Peril” which concludes with an ever-fading melodic outro that seamlessly transitions into the aforementioned brutality.
The song really shows off vocalist Hampus Wahlgren’s dynamic voice. The animalistic screams shown off during the track’s intro eventually give way to an equally guttural screaming delivery of the song’s lyrics. The vocal deliveries on this record are fantastic and really meld well when coupled with the rest of the group’s instrumentation, which will further be discussed below. The songs are broken up with these well-timed maniacal screams that just keep the brutality level high every time they are included.
The track eventually breaks down into a simple bass riff that suddenly explodes again with yet another hurling vocal from Hampus. This moment of sudden solemnness within the track that eventually erupts back into the incredible pace of the start of the song is one of my favourite parts of the record.
A Manifest of Trepidation
“A Manifest of Trepidation” is one of the slower and well-composed tracks on the release. You can tell how well the track is structured simply from how well it flows, especially when looking at the vocals in accordance with the underlying instrumentation.
The highlight of this song is the lengthy chorus. The track slows down to a more melodic section that repeats during the chorus and sounds absolutely beautiful; well, its still death metal, but you get my point. This is further emphasized by the blast beats and fast guitar riffing during the song’s verses that divide its choruses. This melodic section described above is then thrown away during the midsection of the song when it changes pace. It eventually breaks into a full speed segment which includes a fair share of aggression and screaming. The track concludes with an amazing second half that ties back to the first melodic chorus segments while offering something new.
This song is by far my favourite on the release simply because of how well it works as a satellite and when compared to the rest of the album.
While “Dysfori” is one of the instrumental inclusions on the record, I wanted to use it as an opportunity to discuss the group’s appropriate and efficient use of these types of tracks. Melodic instrumental tracks are not unheard of within the genre and some are praised while others make you question their inclusion within a release. A lot of the times instrumentals are used as a record intro or outro and are mainly placed at the very beginning or end of an album to either set the tone or ease the listener off of the ride. For example, I feel like Kreator efficiently uses these melodic intros to set the tone for their records which has become a staple of theirs over the years.
However, there are definitely a lot of times where you question melodic instrumentals filled with pointless ambient noise that have no place on blazing-fast metal records. I assume some bands include them to make their release more diverse and to show off how “deep” their music is, which is otherwise pointless when listeners are here for the screaming and the lightning-fast guitars.
Anyways, my point is that Taphos’ inclusion the ambient intro track “Letum” and the melodic instrumental “Dysfori” really add to the obscure nature of this release. I don’t find myself skipping these tracks when listening to the record and I otherwise enjoy their inclusion. The ambient intro eases you into the onslaught you are about to hear and the acoustic portion that splits the record gives the listener a break while building up the mysterious aura of the release.
Upon the first few listens I would have told you that this release was probably a bit too short as it falls just over 36 minutes in length (keep in mind that there are roughly four minutes of ambient/acoustic noise on the release, so it really only contains about 32 minutes of actual music). However, after spending a decent amount of time with this record, I find that it is the perfect length. A full listen feels a lot longer than it truly is simply because the music offered is so strong and engaging. My one initial qualm was thrown away due to the quality of the music; this record is pretty great.
Come Ethereal Somberness is truly a fantastic death metal release that rivals an already phenomenal year for the subgenre. The record is diverse, engaging, and highly relatable within this dark and unpredictable world and is an exceptional debut for the group.