Iapetus | The Long Road Home | Album Review July 2017
Iapetus | The Long Road Home
Release Year: 2017
Genre: Progressive/Atmospheric/Melodic/Blackened/Death Metal
Matthew Cerami – Vocals/Guitars/Bass
Jordan Navarro – Guitars/Drum Programming/Keyboards/Additional Sounds
Jordan Navarro And Nick Shann – Drum Programming/Arrangements
Nick Shann – Guitar Solo & Stringed Arrangememnts on ‘The Long Road Home’ Violin on ‘My Father, My God
Benjamin Ian Meyerson (Fin Amor) & Justin Barone (Consonance) – Additional Lyrics & Vocal Arrangements
Samantha Marie Rae (Nectar) – Guest Vocals
Charles Buonsera – Bass Solo on ‘Evisecrate Divine’
Ben Xenoyr (Ne Obliviscaris) – Logo & Album Artwork
Nick Shann – Recorded/Mixed & Mastered
Iapetus Official Facebook Page
Iapetus Official Bandcamp Store Profile
Iapetus Official YouTube Channel
I do not know if it is the ‘Prog Metal Purist’ in me or if it is a more open mind but I find the older I get the heavier and more brutal I can accept some forms of metal. Progressive Melodic Death Metal is one of those fractured sub genres. If you would of told me 20 years ago I would fully embrace death growls or black metal screams in the confines of progressive metal I would called you a total fool and joke. Of course I have been into death metal like DEATH, Obituary, Morbid Angel, Cynic even UK’s own Ackercocke. However when it came to progressive metal I did not bat an eye until I discovered Opeth’s Still Life album and witnessed just how beautifully they took the extreme metal/death metal element and made another force in metal’s longevity in rock n roll.
From that point on my objectivity began to grow and my cynicism began to diminish concerning Extreme/Progressive/Atmospheric/Symphonic/Death & Black Metal. I discovered bands like Agalloch, Lamentation Of The Ashen, Summoning on the Black Metal side. On the more Death Metal side I continued to collect Opeth, Between The Buried And Me, Grey Skies Fallen, etc … Soon I would discover what has been branded as ‘Beauty & Beast’ metal where the female soprano is front and center along with the masculine and brutal extreme vocals by the usually the male counterpart with bands such as After Forever, Epica, Tristania, Revamp, etc .. It seems like the older I get the more I am embracing more ‘Extreme’ Metal’.
The above mentioned bands are basically first generation bands. After 30+ years of Extreme Metal it appears there is no sign it is going to wane nor vanish anytime soon. Bands like Iapetus out of New York almost guarantee the certainty that Extreme/Progressive/Atmospheric/Symphonic/Death & Black Metal will continue to grow a evolve with great strength as the years continue. Iapetus’ The Long Road Home has everyone of those elements present within the general construct of the entire album. Iapetus are definitely on the front line as front-runners of the next generation of this style and genre of progressive metal music.
On the surface at first full listen it appears the band have created a concept album. In many ways on the instrumental side they have. On the lyrical side it runs more of a common conceptual theme of science fiction more so than a full conceptual story having a beginning and a end. Throughout the rest of this review I will point out the Extreme highlights, Progressive highlights, Atmospheric highlights, Symphonic, highlights and Death & Black metal highlights with a track to track analysis.
Nomads begins with a very heavily synthesized effects and a almost spoken word effect laden inside the those synth effects. The spoken word effects either sound like a newscast or something from ground control in Houston Texas. It simulates the beginning of a migration towards the cosmos. Like every track on the duration of the album, Nomads bleeds and transitions seamlessly into … Of Hangmen & Vertebrae.
… Of Hangmen & Vertebrae picks right up as Nomads is coming to a close. The transition is beautifully and tastefully done. Nick Shann certainly knows what to do with the compositions of the band as far as recording and mixing. This begins with a thick and heavy atmospheric progression before going into a semi low-fi black metal style guitar riff. That riff is soon met by a more progressive thrash riff with a lead solo in harmony with the low-fi rhythmic chord progression. This track blisters in and out of various chord progression and various time signatures including heavy atmospheric section towards the end of the track. The atmospheric sections do a great job melodiously articulating a space or a cosmos atmosphere. This track transitions very fluidly into the next track Lachrymae Rerum with another spoken word section that serves as a introduction to Lachrymae Rerum.
Lachrymae Rerum this one explodes into nothing short of a serious death metal assault on the senses that is further compounded by some very aggressive death growls with a blackened crust just on the surface. The instrumental portion remains heavily progressive based and does not deviate much from its progressive aesthetic. Instead of placing the entire track in the center of the head the band have a very uncanny ability to hit both the right and left channels in the listening experience where the entire composition envelops the senses. This is a song on the album that perfectly introduces the ‘Metal Purist’ to a more progressive leaning style. Among the vicious blackened death growls there are some spoken word elements to articulate some of the story. About the 4:10 mark the track takes a break from the assault and lures the listener further in with a very beautiful atmospheric passage eloquently done by the acoustic guitar. Think Opeth The Moor from Still Life or even Serenity Painted Death that is what I am reminded of with this song. Once again towards the end the song carries the album towards a interstellar space atmospheric passage where it bleeds and transitions seamlessly into the following track I Sing Of Satellites.
I Sing Of Satellites transitions perfectly off of Lachrymae Rerum with a gentle acoustic guitar passage created a heavy atmospheric passage. This serves like a intro into Savior Solitude where the track transitions seamlessly into the beautiful beginning of Savior Solitude.
Savior Solitude starts off beautifully with a warm, yet open double acoustic guitar passage that allows the listener to be brought into the track further. Then the senses are once again assaulted with the low-fi black metal style of vocal along with a blackened death metal vocal. All the progressive death metal frenzy is met by a very warm and inviting female vocal done very well by Samantha Marie Rae of Nectar. Samantha Marie Rae is a real wild card and dark horse on the album that adds depth to a already deep contented album. This is a very progressive track going in and out from various time signatures and chord progressions that are very obvious. The chord progressions are in the tradition of Periphery, Between The Buried And Me, Textures even Alkoloid. Once again the song transitions seamlessly into the following song My Father, My God.
My Father, My God transitions seamlessly with perfect continuity from Savior Solitude. This is once again accomplished by beautiful acoustic guitar passages that seem to be part of the root backbone to the album. It is not long before the track takes on a more metal direction. This is also the first of two 15+ minute epics on the album. The heavy guitar passages go on for a bit in progressive fashion to set up other parts of the composition. After a thunderous opening the song drops into a very easy acoustic passage adding layers upon the atmospheric side of the album. The acoustical atmospheres are very appropriate for the progressive element to the track. They allow the listener in to experience a auditory journey even with the more extreme elements that are within the composition. The metal half of this track moves the band in a much more European flavored of metal represented in the composition.
The band uses a very unorthodox method to take the low-fi black metal style riff and layer it as if it were a symphonic piece in the composition. At the same time it is a very atmospheric riff as well. The vocals are very blackened melodic death metal in nature. There are spoken word elements to give the senses a reprieve from the guttural assault. The spoken word elements come from both the feminine and masculine perspective. That is something rare in this style and genre of music. Elements like that will invite a female fan base eventually that will help in the growth of the band. My Father, My God transitions quietly into the following track Crown of Stars.
Crown Of Stars begins with a beautifully done acoustic guitar to keep the listener consumed within the album in its entirety. Here the band confirms that its more progressive elements have roots in the 1970’s more so than any other decade. After the lush acoustic guitar opener the band goes into a more symphonic route with various vocal chants running in harmony with solid guitar riffs before the track drops again to a more atmospheric side. By now the band has pulled many elements out for the listener to feast on. By now they are putting them all together with beauty and ease.This serves as a intro to the next track that seamlessly transitions into the following track Eviscerate Divine.
Eviscerate Divine transitions beautifully from Crown of Stars. The band opens it up with their elegant acoustical chord progression before the all out death metal assault hits you with a wall of sound. This track continue to see the band explore all the extreme/death/black/symphonic/atmospheric and progressive boundaries into uncharted waters. The band are certainly very experimental and never afraid to take chances. This track is another validation of all that. They are also not afraid to show the more mature progressive side with very atmospheric acoustic and semi acoustical guitar passages. The layers upon layers they utilize within all the guitar work shows that they not only record but understand the craft it itself. There guitar work spans from 1970’s progressive rock, to late 1970’s to early 1980’s NWOBHM galloping guitars to the low-fi black metal aesthetic we have heard for the last 30 years in the tradition of Hellhammer or a Mayhem. This transitions very atmospherically into the final song The Long Road Home.
The Long Road Home begins with the trademark beautiful lush acoustic guitar passage. These passages are very welcomed when you get them. Oddly the acoustical passages really allow for the progressive elements to shine throughout the album including the last song on it here. This is another epic at 15+ minutes in length. From the beautiful lush acoustical passage comes a very NWOBHM oriented guitar passage with galloping riffs that move the song forward. This song goes in and out from the heavy to the not so heavy passages. In like minded progressive form the instrumental portions are a lot longer. The journey is a beautiful thing with the objective listener. The guitar work is still rooted within a 1970’s element, yet with very modern elements as well. Matthew Cerami, Jordan Navarro and Nick Shann must of had some killer brainstorms as far as the actual recording and mixing. They definitely have a winning infrastructure in play as far as Iapetus as a project is concerned. The Long Road Home really brings all the elements together the band used throughout the album.
I honestly came into this album expecting nothing and getting a lot more than I could ever expect in my own imagination. Iapetus The Long Road Home is definitely on the front-line in the next evolutionary step into the Extreme/Atmospheric/Death/Blackened/Progressive Metal. When we look back on 2017 this will be one of the albums I can say opened more doors into the possibilities of what progressive metal can do and be. I am definitely a believer in the project. I would like to see them create a full band out of this and tour this if possible. The world deserves to hear and Iapetus deserves to be heard. I give Iapetus The Long Road Home a solid 5/5.