Released: 2016, Primeval Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Memento Mori is the debut album of French melodic death metallers Aephanemer, released through Primeval Records on 16. September 2016. Being the follow up to their instrumental EP from 2014, this album marks seeks out to define the sound of a band that I think will only grow in popularity from here on.
With a nice blend of symphonic and melodic death metal, with delightful orchestration throughout, Aephanemer manages to refrain from sounding like just another flat, generic metal band. Memento Mori is very much a release that benefits from great production and musicianship. The Children of Bodom influences are very prominent from start to finish, with neoclassical shredding and nicely executed guitar harmonies playing alongside with keyboards. The album has a very Hatebreeder and Follow the Reaper feel to it, and there are far worse things than early-Bodom material to be compared with.
The band themselves cite bands like Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Wintersun, Insomnium, Children of Bodom, and Amon Amarth as their influences, something which is nothing short but spot on. There’s the riff-driven elements of Dark Tranquility’s Gothenburg melodeath, guitar melodies and neoclassical influences from CoB, and atmospheric elements from Insomnium. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aephanemer supporting any of the above mentioned bands in the near future!
Vocalist Marion Bascoul does a great job, although some of the clean singing does sound a little out of place at times, not necessarily due to her vocal abilities, but more her choice of style for those parts. The almost raspy, harsh clean singing sort of opposes the polished and spotless playing on the rest of the album, and would probably fit better if the band turned to more pagan or black metal influences. Worth mentioning though is that some of the vocal melodies sound surprisingly ‘folk-y’ at times, adding a nice, unexpected touch of variety in a sea of Gothenburg influences.
The album has a nice flow for the most part, and manages to keep the listener interested. The one-minute intro to “Oathsworn” is a nice piece of instrumentation itself, but it feels a little redundant and unnecessary, as it doesn’t link up with the next segment in the song and ends rather abruptly. It disturbs the flow a little bit, but it’s not a major drawback.
Favorite tracks include the album opener “Unstoppable”, nicely building itself up with thrilling orchestration before tearing into a textbook Gothenburg riff, and keeping the intensity up through the whole song. The final track “Gilgamesh” is another highlight, a seven and a half minute long instrumental packed with everything a melodeath fan could wish for.
All in all, Memento Mori marks the beginning of what cannot be predicted as anything but a very promising career for these French metallers. Successfully drawing elements from several of the big names of the genre without sounding like a copycat, this album has numerous memorable moments and enough reasons to revisit in the future. A highly recommended release for fans of the genre!
Review by Torbjørn 'Toby' Jørstad