The official debut from Davide Tiso’s next project following the demise of Ephel Duath is something familiar, yet different. Extreme progressive metal is what the label seems to be calling it, but there is most definitely a bit of avant garde to be found here as well (like we would expect from the man behind Ephel Duath). The list of musicians here is quite star-studded in the heavy metal industry, with names like Jason McMaster (doing his best Warrel Dane impression) playing along with drum sensation Hannes Grossman (he also can craft a mean solo album, as we’ve seen) and saxman Bruce Lamont (Brain Tentacles). But if the album is too saxy for you, then we also have a few guest guitar appearances from Kevin Hufnagel (Gorguts) and Fester (Burials, Humorous). The album itself seems to be lyrically based around the same sort of esoteric realms that you might find in a Nevermore album, with a little Twin Peaks references for good measure.
As far as the performance goes, I really want to say that Howling Sycamore is what happens when Davide Tiso wants to try his hand at Nevermore. McMaster’s Warrel Dane impression is also quite spot-on, making Howling Sycamore a worthy successor to the greatness that we experienced in Sanctuary and Nevermore. It’s not completely the same, but you’d have to be an imbecile to not discern the influences immediately. As I am an absolutely hardcore Nevermore fan, I was blown away by this thing and hope that it doesn’t just become a one-off. Gospel Of The Witches was an impressive record, which makes Howling Sycamore another in a long line of Ephel Duath releases. If nothing else, Mr. Tiso, I think that the universal collective is telling you to keep making more music like this and to not get the urge to resurrect Ephel Duath again. I really didn’t think that lightning would strike again, but after listening to this masterpiece of oblong wonder, I cannot help but be fascinated. Just in case you need one more reminder Nevermore fans, I highly recommend that you pick this up along with your collection box set. I feel that what has been offered here is actually (and I know I’m going to be slapped for this) a sort of evolution of the style pioneered by the Seattle legends. It’s kind of like a mix between The Politics Of Ecstasy and This Godless Endeavor with a dash of Sanctuary’s Into The Mirror Black. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to spend as much time with this album as I would want to, but you can be rest assured that I feel entirely confident in my observation of this monolith. It can only go up from here.