Alphoenix – Evil Ways

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Alphoenix - Evil Ways
Alphoenix – Evil Ways

Reviewed: December 2022
Released: 2022, Spiritual Beast
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Simon Wiedemann

Alphoenix are a Japanese melodic death metal band that combines lyricism and aggression with both clean and shouted vocals and awesome dual guitars. Their rather large goal is to reinvigorate the global death metal scene, and they are up to the task. They are experimental and energetic, and have tons of heavy and dramatic riffs. They are experienced musicians who have played in acts such as MYPROOF, Sailing Before The Wind, and Serenity In Murder, to name a few. Guitarist Shimpei is endorsed by Solar Guitars, and bassist Bitoki is endorsed by Ibanez. The sound was engineered by the Swede Jonas Kjellgren, a man who has also worked with Amorphis, Dark Funeral, and Sabaton. 

This may be a heavy band but still, the snare drum is thick and powerful, so it’s a bit overpowering in the blast beats maybe, but in the (relatively) slower parts it does work. The band could have used two different snare drums for different speeds, but that sounds odd to me. Not to worry the album may start with extreme bashing, but from then on, thankfully most of the beats aren’t truly full on so it’s not too big an issue. Not so good reviewing, rather me writing about things that don’t matter too much, but an interesting anecdote to start things off. The way screamed vocals are often followed by clean ones, reminds one of the ‘Come Clarity’ album by In Flames. The sung vocal melodies are fairly decent, but perhaps a bit too much like the band. Some of the leads are shred styled, but others are more melodic and bring to mind the same group’s ‘December Flower.’ Are they too much like DF? You’d think I’d say ‘yes’, but on the contrary, it’s a great solo, and I want more of it. 

One of the main differences Alphoenix has however, is the increased frequency of super quality leads. If you love your noodling, you will likely love this. Instrumental guitar music can sound a bit ‘lonely’, so if you like the thought of guitars with the company of a screaming lunatic, you’re in luck. The riffs are very typical for the melodic death metal genre, but they’re good cliched riffs. Maybe there are subtle hints of djent in some of them, making things a bit more modern. Most of the songs on the album are rather similar to each other though, so again, you better be into your guitars. Fortunately, you do get a range of tempos from mild to mental. Track ‘Silver Lining’ has some feel good speedy punk pop influences at times in the instruments and the vocals, too. Almost think some early Blink 182 just heavier, with thicker, more professional production and with shouts mixed with more accessible clean singing. You also get some more modern metal open string chugs which is interesting. Blink have gone off road! ‘The Evil Way’ has some more unexpected guitar parts that are a little more laid back and serious, and bring to mind some of the proggy Coheed and Cambria. Later on there are even touches of Slipknot heard in some super low pitched patterns. Needless to say, a bit more adventurous. ‘BlaQ Road’ has some particularly strong vocal melodies (at least in my opinion) but the guitars riffs are sometimes a bit ploddy maybe (maybe), so the song doesn’t stand out as much as it could.

To conclude, it seems Alphoenix stick to a formula a bit too much, and the formula isn’t theirs. Yes, not too many bands have a sound that is truly their own, but these people do need to try harder. They clearly have it in them, may I suggest going to a diverse CD shop? Maybe the punk section? They’ve proved they can be at least a bit punk, why not expand on that? Some of the riffs have a fair bit to them and are far from the simplest they can get away with, but in terms of note choices they are very safe. *Cough* ‘In Flames!’ Again, guitar nerds who appreciate the tapping technique in particular may love this album, but those looking for something deeper and fresher may be disappointed. On the plus side, instrumental guitar music is often if not almost always very (very) OTT, so in that respect, Alphoenix are more sensible. There is dreaminess heard on occasion that adds depth to the heaviness, but that sound isn’t too new, either. Metalcore bands such as Killswitch Engage have some very similar ideas. There are some chants I’m sure huge audiences would love to join in with, but… they’re safe chants. Want to know an unsafe chant? One using the Aeolian b5 scale in 13/16. Alphoenix, try that. The album on the whole isn’t bad, but really it’s kind of average. 


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Tracklisting:

1. The Great Divide
2. Return of the Savior
3. Dream Eater
4. Hell’s Lord
5. Aegis
6. BlaQ Road
7. Eye of the Phoenix
8. Diamond Dust
9. Woven Wind
10. Silver Lining
11. The Evil Way
12. Refusion

Band Line-up:

Shohei Koda – Drums
Bitoku – Bass
Yuki – Guitars
Sinpay – Guitars, vocals
Thor – Vocals

Websites:

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Bandcamp