Published Nov 18, 2013In Elvish (as it appears in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings), Ephel Duath refers to the Mountains of Shadow that form the Western and Southern borders of Mordor, the dark and terrible country from which the dark lord Sauron reigns. It follows that the record's title, Hemmed By Light, Shaped By Darkness, also refers to this infernal landscape, bordered and contained by the forces of good and breeding evil within.
This sense of darkness given shape, and finally boiling over, comes to define the record. Ephel Duath have undergone a significant transformation since being founded in 1998; their last release, the EP On Death and Cosmos in 2012, featured a new lineup assembled by founder Davide Tiso that included the deep, smouldering voice of death metal vocalist Karyn Crisis. Her subterranean, guttural performance serves as an anchor for the sound, while the fractured, progressive and unexpected song structures move and shift like tectonic plates. If she is the anchor, then drummer Marco Minnemann is the engine, forcing the tracks to move with a kind of geothermal grandiosity. Strange, sinuous and belching flames, Hemmed By Light is an uneven effort, but one that nonetheless succeeds in conveying an abyssal loathsomeness with a rare, quixotic artfulness. (Agonia)