Released: 2005, The End Records
Reviewer: Gabriel C. Zolman
This CD marks the debut of new vocalist Lord Hellspawn. And with a name like that, I really don’t think we’re keeping any secrets here. You know where this is going.
The songs are catchy for Black/Death—the guitarwork is dead-on, sharp and vicious. The drumming is excellent. The title cut is remarkably astute as a composition; it manages to cover a number of bases, falling merely inches short of a home run.
Perhaps the production is what irks me; this was produced by Erin Farley—a Hardcore producer. The organic leanings that come with this territory are entirely inappropriate for a band like this. Epoch are a Euro-influenced Blackened Death act—they need to sound polished and triumphant, like Dimmu Borgir or Agathodaimon. Instead, they sound like a gang of bored Norwegians, who simply wandered into a studio from the bar, set up shop, and played for want of better things to do. Simply said, the production is too warm, too spontaneous, and far too sparse. This isn’t a post-punk record; it’s not death n’ roll; it’s not even a “grim” Dark Throne-inspired devil rock album. This is sophisticated Black Metal, with high ambitions, and lofty musical intent. As much as I detest saying it, this record needed gloss.
Aside from this, it’s a solid outing—better than usual. Like most American acts, the influences are all over the place. These guys sound like they own every Osmose and Nuclear Blast album ever released. This isn’t a bad thing; but I wouldn’t call it “cult.” It is, however, consistent. Fans of Absu, Averse Sefira, and other US Black/Death heroes are sure to love this, despite the somewhat stale recording quality.
Much of what this band does right far outshines the bulk of their clichés—“The End Of All” has a multitude of textures, all brought together very nicely. The lyrics are decent. The aggression level manages to remain constant, yet the tempos are legion. This is all a cut above for what a US band generally achieves when tackling a distinctly European style. This band sounds like they could come from anywhere. “Broken Pendulum” is very Scandinavian, like a Norwegian import circa 1994. There are modern flourishes, for sure; but I still remain unconvinced that there is an individual “Epoch Of Unlight” sound. Really, it’s more a collective of well-played sounds of any number of bands. In the end, it makes it difficult to fairly review, but more than enjoyable to simply play. (And that’s the point, isn’t it?)
This is the sound of potential being motioned at frantically, but only seldom grasped. Epoch Of Unlight are one of the better bands rising up from the Midwest; perhaps their next outing will more accurately capture what the band seeks, but seems ever-so-slightly hindered, from achieving.