Label : Pervade/Manitou/Thundering Records

Review by Tony Cannella

You have to give France’s Amphitryon huge marks for doing something a little different and so ambitious. Their new release is titled “Drama” and it is a live CD/DVD set and really a beautiful package. I will review the CD portion of the set here with the DVD part coming in a separate review.Drama” is quite a complex concept album based on a story from the imagination of guitarist/vocalist Mathieu Scarpa. Completing the line-up in Amphitryon are: Laurent Desvignes (Guitar,Vocals), Sarah Barisèle (Vocals, Flute), Barbara Haignere (Vocals, Flute), Gianni Leone (Bass, Vocals, Percussion) and Christophe Demazeux (Drums). The band play some truly complex avant-garde metal, with some elements of doom and death metal fitting into the equation. As already mentioned, “Drama” is a live CD/DVD. The studio versions of these songs can be found on their 2006 CD “Sumphokeras”. The intro track “Archeia” starts things off and it is successful in creating a definite aura and theatrical vibe. This leads us into the next track “Theocracy”. The mix of the harsh male vocals with the pretty, operatic female vocals provided by Sarah Barisèle and Barbara Haignere are pretty cool. Of course it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, but the way it is presented gives it a fresh and exciting feel. The pounding rhythms near the end of this track are quite simply crushing as the song gets heavier and speeds up near the end. “Omen” is next and it begins with a melancholic guitar riff and the clean male vocals come in and soon give way to the harsh male vocals. The vocal styles are split pretty evenly between harsh male vocals, clean male vocals and the soprano female vocals. The vocals have an almost choir-like feel on this one. This was a definite highlight for me. The harsh male vocals are quite good as well. Sometimes you either like that style or you don’t, with Amphitryon the harsh male vocals are done in such a way that they don’t overwhelm anything, you can pretty much understand every word and it blends in nicely with the other styles. The next track is the instrumental “Cadence of the Rowers”. The drums have a tribal feel to them and they are mixed with arabian-like rhythms and then the heavy guitar riffs accompanied by the flute join in and make this quite a unique track and an instrumental that does a nice job in keeping your attention. It builds and builds and leads us into the next track “Armadas Conflict” which begins with a cool riff and the female vocals once again come in before they give way to the harsh vocals. “Saundeha” is only about 1 and a half minute long and features some eerie organ music accompanied by some chanting and it leads us to the next track “Pantheon”. This is probably my favorite song. There is so much going on in this track that you have to love the complexity. The CD is completed by a trio of epic numbers. “Paths of Dementia”, “Phthoneros Daimon” and “Samsara” all clock in at 8, 9 and 10 minutes respectively and it brings the CD portion on this set to a close after 57-minutes. Amphitryon are a band that are sure to evoke mixed opinions from metal fans. It’s true they can be a challenge to listen to, but for fans who are looking for something a little different and indeed conceptual, than I would wholeheartedly recommend taking up the challenge with Amphitryon. It is definitely a challenge worth accepting.

“Drama” is the new CD/DVD set from France’s Amphitryon. The band has really proven that they are quite an ambitious bunch with this new set. The songs performed on “Drama” are from a story written by guitarist/vocalist Mathieu Scarpa called “Le Cycle d’Ephapsamenee” and originally appeared on their 2006 CD “Sumphokeras”. Here now is the DVD side of things. The DVD comes with a 63-minute live concert performance as well as some pretty cool extras that make it easier for the viewer/listener to follow along with this complex story.The performance begins with the intro track “Archeia”. The intro is dark, ominous and foreboding, it’s also pretty damn cool and a perfect precursor to what is to follow. The song list is the same as what can be found on the CD but it is very cool to have the opportunity to see the band perform this interesting story. There is no between song banter from the band to the audience. It is just the band playing the story from beginning to end. The lighting on the stage is a bit dark at times. I don’t know if that is by design but it certainly adds to the overall feel and vibe of the performance. The bonus features are also very interesting as well. “The Cycle d’Ephapsamenee” features the text (in both French and English) of the main story, so if there are thing you don’t understand, just refer to this part and it’ll get you back on track. Each song has it’s own special chapter that tells you where that song fits in the story and you can go right to it. In addition to that, you get some cool photos of the making of this presentation, some live pics and some paintings by Daniel Peron which are inspired by the story. The whole things all adds up to a satisfying package. Whether you like Amphitryon or you don’t (and I suspect opinions will vary), you have to give them the respect. They have put out a package goes against the grain for such a young band. It is obvious a lot of thought, dedication and imagination went into the making of Drama”. The story being told is quite interesting and has several layers to it and is very well done.

Total Rating – 82/100

 

Tracklist

CD Contents

  1. Archeia
  2. Theocracy
  3. Omen
  4. Cadence of the Rowers
  5. Armadas Conflict
  6. Saundeha
  7. Pantheon
  8. Paths of Dementia
  9. Phthoneros Daimon
  10. Samsara

 

DVD Contents

  1. Drama – Full Show
  2. The Cycle of Ephapsaménée (Bonus)
  3. English/French version (Bonus)
  4. Paintings (Bonus)
  5. Portraits (Bonus)
  6. Making of  (Bonus)
  7. Teaser  (Bonus)

Line Up

  • Sarah Barisèle – Vocals
  • Barbara Haigneré – Backing Vocals & Flute
  • Laurent Desvignes – Guitars & Harsh Vocals
  • Mathieu Scarpa – Guitar 
  • Gianni Leone – Bass 
  • Christophe Demazeux – Drums  

 

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