Persefone – Lingua Ignota: Part I


Andorra’s most famous metal band produced one of the finest prog albums of the last few years with their 2022 metanoia effort. SBR praised it for its colourful timbres and illustrative textures.

‘Those of you that wish one day for Textures to reform will find sanctuary here,’ we beamed. ‘We might never get a Phenotype Part II from the Dutch giants, but metanoia can do the job of providing the sequel.’ Since then, Textures have reformed, and there’s a good chance we might see a sequel to their 2016 album. In that time, Persefone have lost their long-serving vocalist, Marc Martins Pia, and drafted in a Spaniard, Daniel Rodríguez Flys, to take the mic. Lingua Ignota: Part I is a chance for the band to introduce him to the fanbase for his first recorded output.

As if nervous and determined to make an impression, Flys, sticks to a recital to make his mark in the intro track, ‘Sounds and Vessels’. “I keep dreaming of the one word that cannot be named,” he repeats with extreme anxiety. Behind him, fluttering synths reach surface tension and explode into a blockbuster score to offer him some protection. Of course, the vocals are less important than the guitars in this type of virtuoso prog metal. The two axemen insert more fills into the opening riff of ‘One Word’ than a date rapist on the prowl with Rohypnol in his pocket. One thing we can say is that Persefone have the technical know-how to inject melody into their complex rhythms. You can appreciate the spacious aspects of this music in between the standard metalcore fodder of the heavier parts. Here, Daniel Rodríguez Flys exhales to achieve maximum aggression without shredding his larynx. The lyrics are exactly what you’d expect from a band who draw inspiration from existentialist literature as easily as they embrace sweep-picking guitar solos. “Existing through my whole being / This empty vessel I carry / I am not one face / For I am many.” This is prog metal – you get the picture. The biggest enemy is often oneself or a version of it that needs a spiritual cleansing.

Excitement is constant in the tension and tenacity of the guitar work on this EP. Those that have grown tired of progressive metalcore will be harder to please. Did Persefone once play melodic death metal? You’ll find no trace of it here. Church bells and looping guitar arpeggios set the scene for a mid-range shred of the fretboard in ‘The Equable’. The opening verse pinches your skin with a latent sorrow underneath the thrashing guitars. Clearly, this band look towards Katatonia for the cleaner vocal parts. But is there a song among the tempo shifts and forceful rhythms? The Andorrans will find it difficult to appeal to those outside the guitar nerd community and might be more favourable to the incel generation of metalheads, which, let’s be honest, wins them little credibility.

Perhaps fans of the debut Temic record will be the biggest beneficiaries of this EP. As with their labelmates, imperious keyboards fill the gaps like sauerkraut – everyone needs a side dish, right? The musicians in this band do what they want. Sticksman, Sergi Verdeguer, benefits from having nobody to edit his playing and treats most songs like a playthrough for Drumeo. You can’t fault the pulse of this music in the title-track, nor is there anything one-dimensional about Persefone’s art. The colours are many, but the abundance of competing ideas does not always translate into a coherent experience for the listener. It’s ironic that they find their true voice when strumming their guitars in clean mode and repeating the chorus in a haunting multi-harmony arrangement. This allows them to bring in the chugging rhythms for the finale with double-kick drums operating at full capacity.

There’s no denying that the heavy parts are monstrous, but this EP suffers from a blockbuster production. Not so with closing track, ‘Abyssal Communication’, which shares the same pensive vibe as Haken’s 2018 Vector album. A keyboard motif sets the scene for Daniel Rodríguez Flys to test the highest range of his baritone register with occasional ventures into a falsetto croon. Persefone understand that you need to structure a listening experience with the dark and light elements and the opposing dynamics in equilibrium with each other. This is a solemn exit anthem built around a commanding vocal line of multiple layers. It’s a poignant way to end the record.

Persefone’s core founders have been producing music since 2001. The loss of a respected vocalist is not a crisis when you have the same level of self-belief and determination as Carlos Lozano Quintanilla (lead guitar) and Toni Mestre Coy (bass). Bring on part two!

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 02/02/2024

Record Label: Napalm Records

Standout tracks: One Word, Lingua Ignota

Suggested Further Listening: Born of Osiris – Angel or Alien (2021), Temic – Terror Management Theory (2023), Caligula’s Horse – Charcoal Grace (2024)