Released by: Vicisolum Productions
Release Date: March 29th, 2013
Genre: Progressive melodic death metal
Marc Martins Pia – Vocals
Carlos Lozano Quintanilla – Guitars
Jordi Gorgues Mateu – Guitars
Miguel Espinoza Ortiz – Keyboards
Tony Mestre Coy – Bass
Marc Mas Marti – Drums
1. Flying Sea Dragons (intro)
2. Mind as Universe
3. The Great Reality
4. Zazen Meditation
5. The Majesty of Gaia
6. Consciousness Part 1 – Sitting in Silence
7. Consciousness Part 2 – A Path to Enlightenment
8. Inner Fullness
9. Metta Meditation
10. Upward Explosion
11. Spiritual Migration
12. Returning to the Source
In a quest to find some awesome bands in all nooks and crannies of the world, some 8 or 9 years ago, I discovered my first gem from Andorra (a tiny country right next to Spain): Persefone. Their weapon of choice? Death metal, of the melodic and progressive kind. At least, on their 2003 debut, Truth Inside the Shades. Their endeavors would slightly change on the following albums, however. Already on their sophomore album (2006’s Core), they would exploit their progressive roots, resulting in an amazing journey into melodic extremity, with only 3 songs all over 20 minutes long. As such, it’s most definitely not for the faint of heart but when given a chance, the album reveals itself in a tour-de-force of progressive death metal, quite different from the obvious Opeth-influenced bands I often see in the genre. Then, 2010’s Shin-ken introduced a slightly different sound, this time much more exotic with a concept around Samurai culture/history and borrowing from traditional Japanese music, which gave the album quite a unique feel. It would be difficult to predict where they would be headed for their 4th album, since they are not a band that repeat themselves.
We are not yet at the second trimester of 2013 that I may have found my favorite death metal album of 2013. In their traditional unpredictable nature, Persefone turned the tables on everyone and unleashed Spiritual Migration upon the world. This time around, the concept is rooted around Zen Buddhism, as far as I can tell. They have kept the progressive incline intact from the two previous album but the technicality has been kicked up a notch, to say the least. Their fourth offering is a heavily technical album yet it still manages to keep that melody and atmosphere that makes me enjoy the band so much since Core. The first few listens to Spiritual Migration have admittedly been a bit rough due to the drastically increased technicality but after a few spins, the melody burst through and the album revealed itself more and more to me.
Although the album is almost technical death metal a lot of the time, don’t get freaked out; it’s still very melodic and has Persefone’s trademark atmosphere that creates a lush, organic vibe to the whole of the album. So while it is quite a lot more technical than anything they’ve ever done, it’s still incredibly musical and is closer to Be’lakor than it is to, say, Spawn of Possession. That said, they do have their own sound and don’t sound truly close to any other band I can think of. For me, what has always been the weakest link of the band is still quite present here, and that is the harsh vocals. They’re not really bad in themselves but rather, just a bit generic and boring to my ears. Despite being accented, I find the clean vocals to be overall much more enjoyable here. No need to look anywhere further than “Mind as Universe” for a good example of how the clean vocals highlight the songs better than the harsh ones. And funnily enough, the following song “The Great Reality” is one where the clean vocals irk me a bit more and make me wish there were more cleans. Still a fantastic song, however.
So here’s a breakdown of the album. “Flying Sea Dragons” start the album with an atmospheric intro which is a good taste of things to come before “Mind as Universe” comes bursting out from the speakers with its speedy melodic death metal assault. The clean vocal segments here are very well done and create hooks that make the song a highlight. We also have a bit of flashy guitar work here, displaying the album’s technical side quite well. “The Great Reality” is a bit longer and more progressive, with an atmospheric break, a bit more technical work and a killer soaring finale. After that comes the first of two instrumental “meditative” tracks, this one titled “Zazen Meditation” (to the unenlightened, in Zen Buddhism, “zazen” is a discipline which arms to calm the body and mind to seek existential insight and enlightenment). It is quite a beautiful atmospheric track, reflecting its title and the spirit behind it. After that is a big chunk of the album in “The Majesty of Gaia”, the first track over 8 minutes here. It so happens it’s one of my favorites as well. It’s incredible, actually. There’s absolutely nothing I don’t like about this one, even the harsh vocals (used sparingly, thankfully). The instrumental display is technical and the song is quite progressive but every bit of it is amazing, from the atmosphere (almost symphonic at times) to the lyrics and the general composition. The first half of the album closes with the 2-part “Consciousness”, where Part 1 – Sitting in Silence is another quiet, contemplative composition which introduces its counterpart, the energetic and beautiful Part 2 – A Path to Enlightenment. Both are instrumental tracks and even though I’m not the biggest instrumental metal fan, I can’t help but love those tracks, as they are both incredibly musical and interesting.
The second half of the album opens with the epic “Inner Fullness”, another long track which displays more progressive and technical fireworks. It’s a slightly more aggressive song, driven by powerful screams but thankfully complimented with terrific musicianship and despite being one of my least favorite songs on Spiritual Migration, it’s still a fantastic song by musicianship alone. The second meditation track comes next, “Metta Meditation”. Again, another contemplative instrumental track which is quite fittingly beautiful (the concept of Mett? is much more complex, so I won’t get into that; feel free to look it up on the net, as it is quite interesting). “Upward Explosion” is a short interlude which introduces the lengthy title track, “Spiritual Migration”. While I usually don’t find much use for interludes, this one fits and I think the album would actually be missing something without it. The title track is really epic, in both length and scope. It has a killer atmosphere, a fantastic display of melody and progressive structures, a diverse vocal attack and musical approach. As such, I find it encompasses not only the album, but rather all thatPersefone has been since Core. The final real track, “Returning to the Source” is also the longest here, at just above 9 minutes. It is a bit of a throwback to Shin-ken in the sense that there is a bit of traditional Asian intonations on it. The album closes with the aptly titled “Outro”, a quiet piece with water flowing, perhaps symbolizing enlightenment and/or the attainment of one of the “brahmavih?ras” (one of the sublime Buddhist virtues which meditation is used to attain and cultivate).
At this point, props really must be given to the musicians but especially guitarists Carlos and Jordi for once again gracing a Persefone album with their impressive skill and talent. I also can’t fail to mention Miguel Espinoza for the amazing keyboard work throughout the album, creating Persefone’s unique atmosphere. The band is criminally unknown and I hope Spiritual Migration will make waves and be the one that gets them exposure and a deal with a bigger label, because these Andorrans more than deserve it after their 3 stellar last albums. If Core and Shin-kenwere already killer albums, Spiritual Migration is just better than I expected in every possible way and is becoming one of my favorite metal albums in 2013 so far and I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be one of my favorite metal albums of the 2000s, should I ever make such a list. At over 70 minutes long, it’s a demanding listen but an absolutely essential one for progressive death metal fans and definitely is also recommended to even those that aren’t fans of the more extreme forms of metal but that can appreciate well-composed and interesting music. As such, it is deserving of one of my rare perfect marks.
Written by Chris Auclair
Ratings Chris 10/10
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