Released: 2014, Self-released
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
If you miss the Opeth of the Deliverance/Damnation era or mourn the apparent loss of Nevermore, the debut from Italy's EpisTheme offers the best of both worlds, and then some. The band's grandiose prog/death/power/classic metal blends the majesty and epic scale of Nevermore with the dramatically soaring and swooping sonic arcs of Opeth, with a bit of Fates Warning's deft, delicate complexity thrown in for good measure.
Descending Patterns is certainly not the most original sounding album out there, as its influence are worn well out on the band's respective sleeves – the shimmering guitar production certain won't help the band escape the Opeth comparisons. But EpisTheme still manage to deliver a compelling effort with lots of twists and turns, plenty of muscle on the likes of “Eyeland” and “Blindside” to really make it hurt and let enough of their personality shine through so as to not sound like a tribute band.
Vocalist Luca Correnti is a central figure in that aspect. Gruff but never growly during the heavier moments, lyrical and melodic during the quieter, more expansive passages yet never warbly or overbearing, his voice captures a perfect middle range and helps give EpisTheme's music a solid center. It helps, too, that the band don't go overboard on either the death metal or prog elements. The power metal bombast and classic metal catchiness stand out on Descending Patterns and make for a more inviting album, without too much ugliness or wank to detract from an otherwise solid set of seven songs delivered in a tidy 40 minutes.
Riccardo Liberti's pronounced bass licks and Daniele Spagnulo's limber tempos do provide a loose and lively bottom end for Francesco Coluzzi and Enrico Grillo thrust and parry guitaring. But the proggiest moments also are some of the quietest, so showing off is certainly not the focus here. By the same token, the deathlier sections generally are tempered by the sleek production and dark melodies that permeate the album.
Once EpisTheme really find their footing and develop a sound that is unique to themselves, they could really start making some waves. As it stands now, they have a decent debut to build on – but still a bit of work ahead of them.