Ever heard of hellishly catchy progressive metal? Pretty rare thing isn’t it? Plenty of metal-fans are a little concerned, when hearing this genre-description, as “prog” oftentimes means “inaccessible”, or that songs are ten+ minutes in length, where most of the track’s runtime feels like a showcase for the individual musicians (looking a little at you, Dream Theater).
“Inaccessible” is probably the last adjective I would use for Pyramaze’s sixth album Epitaph, which is their third full-length record by their current line-up. It’s also their first release that’s backed by AFM records, and is, once again, produced by Jacob Hansen.
Originally formed in 2002, the story of Pyramaze is a long and tumultuous one. After releasing just two albums (Melancholy Beast and Legend of the Bone Carver) the band lost their first lead singer Lance King, only to gain a new one in the form of Matt Barlow, who some of you might know as the vocalist of a little American band called Iced Earth. After Barlow went back to IE, and all founding members abandoned ship, the rest of the band decided to carry on with Pyramaze. What followed, were the excellent Disciples of the Sun, and the very good Contingent.
I can wholeheartedly say, that Epitaph is one of the catchiest, best produced albums I heard in 2020. As with most prog-albums is the case, it starts with a calm intro in the form of the titular Epitaph, which fluently goes into the storm of melodies, that is A Stroke of Magic. After the incredible doublepunch Steal my Crown and Knights in Shining Armor, it becomes clear, that although it most definitely is a metal-album, keyboards and orchestra mostly take the lead on this record. With the exception of maybe Particle.
Even some female vocals found their way unto the record, in form of Brittney Slayes from Unleash the Archers.
The greatest sin a progressive band can make, is in my opinion, to stretch their songs into double digit behemoths, when they should have ended at the five minute mark. Pyramaze avoid that mostly, but tap fully into sin territory with their last track The Time Traveller. It’s a nice idea, to give both former lead-singers a guest spot on their record, but with twelve minutes, the albumcloser is a little bit longer than it should have been.
Epitaph is nonetheless a superb LP from a criminally underrated band. I’m looking forward to their next release.
I like music. All of it. Except for schlager… And ballermann. Oh boy do I hate ballermann.