Æpoch - Hiraeth

01 Sep 2021 - Daniel F.

Death Metal | self-released | Release date: 10 Sep 2021

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Death Metal can sometimes offer something of a quandary. Often bands engross themselves in one of two categories; old school familiarity, or trying to push the envelope and attempt something uber progressive. It’s nice then when bands come along with an affliction for old and new, and Æpoch seem very much intent on burning their musical candle from both ends. Their latest offering comes in the form of their upcoming EP Hiraeth, a bruising five-track offering that promises to expand the band’s horizons and expand on their ever evolving sound. Hot on the heels of their 2020 released The Scryer EP, it is something of a fork in the road for the band, seeing them venture into pastures new and exciting.

From the off, the instrumental opener ”Atonement” gives us a good yardstick as to what awaits us, steaming blindly into battle with pummelling death metal riffs and pulsating fretless bass work that glides throughout the track. As you’d expect, it’s fast and affords us little chance to stop for breath. Blast beats coexist alongside sweeping solos, leading into the first track proper, ”Amnesia”. In the early stages, we hear more of the same, before eerie growls dominate the forefront of the track. From here, things start to become a little more technical, as the pace seems to reach boiling point and the instrumentation becomes ever more interwoven.

One of the more impressive elements is the higher vocal range of frontman Brett Macintosh (who is also responsible for the aforementioned fretless bass wizardry.) He shrieks and offers real dynamic, switching the whole feel of the EP with ease and finesse. He shines through ”The Flesh Totem”, a track which also includes some of the band’s more melodic guitar work. It’s times like this where Æpoch sound brighter, a little like themselves and perhaps far removed from a traditional death metal record. However, normality soon resumes with huge, dissonant riffs and thunderous drums, to remind us that we’re listening to a very heavy record.

In all, Æpoch have written a solid EP. It’s nice to just see a band writing music they clearly feel passionate about, combining their love of tech death with the Old School Death Metal bands of old. It bodes well for their future, one in which they will surely continue to push themselves and the genre forwards. These guys are well worth keeping on the radar, as this EP is solid work.