The Sad Wonder Of The Sun
(My Kingdom Music)
If you miss the sound of Moonspell’s mid-era goth rock period and discs like Sin/Pecado, The Butterfly Effect and Darkness and Hope, then you’re going to find something very welcoming in Italian goth metal act Ecnephias’ sixth full-length album. Although these guys have been around since ’05, I don’t really recall hearing anything from them until now. With a vocal approach that I would find uncannily similar to that of Fernando Ribeiro, Frontman, guitarist and programmer Mancan seems to capture that same level of vocal tone and even the vocal inflections that one might memorize after having sung along to early Moonspell discs for decades. But don’t get me wrong, as Mancan is no cheap emulation. On tracks like “The Lamp” and “A Stranger” he nearly proves that he could stand in for the famous frontman if anything should ever happen to him. In fact, Moonspell fans would have never even known that Ribeiro had ever left the band; which just goes to show how much impact Mancan has as a vocalist. There are some heavier portions here that lean towards the realm of gothic death/metal, but it might be this portion of the performance that I find most forgettable. It almost feels like a light sort of gothic death, where the element just seems out of place entirely. There are misplaced growls during rather light keyboard and acoustic sections that just do not fit, period. It feels like the band more or less wanted to make a straightforward gothic metal album, but didn’t want to completely lose touch with their death metal fans. Perhaps some of the eariler discs were even lighter and they wanted to sharpen the edges a little.
It does sound a bit thin, which is my only real nagging complaint here. When the disc kicks up a bit, the sound of Khorne’s bass sounds a bit muted – there just isn’t enough kick there for me. It would soon come apparent that the band wanted to create a much heftier performance than what they did, or perhaps they were attempting the difficult game of a balance between light goth rock and hard-hitting death metal. In the case of The Sad Wonder Of The Sun, it would seem that one portion has vastly overpowered the other as keyboard-friendly goth rock is far more prevalent than any death metal excursions apparent on the disc. Though I found nothing altogether notable as far as the guitars and drumming were concerned, the disc does manage to shine well in so far as it’s keyboard melodies, which are a good thing considering the meat of this genre. It is extremely difficult to consider this a death metal disc with as many goth rock meanderings as the listen offered, though that’s really not a detriment for me as I’ve more or less decided to check out the disc because of this goth rock factor. The performance feels a lot like Moonspell, a little like Tiamat and manages to shine a bright enough light to showcase it among those greats. Although it may have taken six albums to do it, but The Sad Wonder Of The Sun entails a truly solid performance from Italian goth maestros Ecnephias that may finally get them some of the attention they deserve.