Shibbster Tweets About: Napoleon’s „Epiphany“

Shibbster Tweets About: Napoleon’s „Epiphany“

So, a few weeks ago Napoleon released their first single off their new album, called Ignite. I reviewed that song in particular and you can find the article here.

On Friday, finally „Epiphany“ came out. I was excited already and I am very happy to share my thoughts about this album with you! The front cover alone makes me want to listen to it and I think it is the coolest front cover of an album I’ve seen in a while. Also, Napoleon’s debut album „Newborn Mind“ is one of my favorite albums. Of course I am excited for the successor then!

Are you ready? Cause I am! Here we go:

1. Godspeed
The album opens up with a very groovy kinda stuttering clean guitar riff. It sounds like glitchy video game music actually and quickly opens up into a classic Napoleon riffing: Bouncy, odd rhythms and over-accurately played melody guitars. This track gets me from the start and is in my opinion a great choice for an opening track. Also, that there sections played in different harmonic scales gives it a very interesting feel to it. It really serves every Napoleon fan: it boasts fast sections, bouncy ones, complex riffings as well as more straight forward parts and of course, Wes dancing around between extremely torturous screams and high energetic, high register singing. I’m so in the mood already! (…bringing that glitchy sounding intro riff in again later in the song is a very big plus as well!)

2. Above & Below
This opening riff immediately tells you that Napoleon are back - but also that they matured with their music. It all sounds a little more intentional, a little less chaotic without losing complexity but it still has this melodiposipassiongroove-vibe to it - even though this track is mainly written in minor key. The very simple played chorus is a welcome change in this song as it gives you time to breathe but it still fits the energy pretty well. As already mentioned this track really proves that these guys have improved their songwriting. …and are going new steps as well, as the abrupt change to the outro is something that you couldn’t find anywhere in Newborn Mind. At first, it felt weird, but as soon as you’re in the groove, it feels very right!

3. Ignite
Find my review for the song Ignite here.
My impression hasn’t really changed.

4. Epiphany
For those of you, who have been following my blog recently, you know I am not a big fan of „title-tracks“. So again in this case, I subject this song to very close scrutiny, hahaa!
It starts with a very romantic clean guitar section, playing almost as accurate as a computer - I still need to figure out how to play this… And it spreads a nice atmosphere right before the very first hard hit comes without any prior announcement in your face! This song has a more complex feel to it. The tempo feel changes quite often and rapidly and at some points you get the impression of being thrown around by odd time signatures. Nonetheless, the song manages to stay within a reasonable frame is it is „cleaning“ itself every now and then - constantly wandering between being complex and straight. I really like the „djenty“ section somewhere in the middle of the song and later on again. It is hard-grooving without having this stereotypical sound of all those Drop-Q bands… In general, this is a very stable balanced song. And fascinating to me: I didn’t discover any „highlights“, but I loved the overall stability of the arrangement!

5. Decay to Create
I REALLY NEED MORE OF THIS! …once more, Napoleon amaze with an insanely groovy clean-rhythm play and stretch it even out a little so it really shines. And they leave this intro as a statement. It ends - short pause - and then the full band kicks in! However, in a slightly different feel: It feels like being another song. And it’s constantly evolving, even coming back to a groove section with clean guitars, where one is even throwing some blues-notes in. Accompanied by shouting vocals - what a nice contrast work here! This song does not really stop conveying the feeling of evolving. It is very vivid and thus, some of you might feel that it is a very long track. With almost 5 minutes of duration, you’re right on that! But especially the section later in the song where the key feels not stable and then drops into another romantic clean section again justifies the length of the song. You really experience a songwriting variable play here within the same song. Very cool and catching! (Not really catchy though, to be honest - apart from the blues notes…)

6. Fantasist feat. JT Cavey
So well okay. This is weird. To me, this song feels like a simplified arrangement of any song of Periphery - which is mainly because of the general harmonic feel of the melodies and chords… But even though it feels like Periphery to a certain extent, it sounds very different: more daring and playful actually. It has some wild energy to it - and although it really is more controlled overall than Above & Below, it feels a little more rough and crazy! Which is a cool effect when listening coherently through this album. This song as well has a very stable overall arrangement, but this time I would have liked to have a little highlight here and there - but I can’t say I’m disappointed. What’s interesting here is that Fantasist as well has a „detached“ outro section, just like „Decay to Create“. But this time, it feels like it is only there to serve the featuring vocalist. not 100% justifying the length.

7. Diamond In The Rough
So, I have been talking about more control and wildness already - this song really points both traits out from the very beginning and boasts one legendary moment of this album at 0.24: Wes reaches an insanely high note that suits the context so well, leaving you wanting to hear that again, but it just doesn’t repeat. Wow! All of this, changing tempo feels again and incorporating clean melody guitars in heavy pressing contexts really gets me moving to it. This multi-level arrangement is also very well balanced in the mix. I do not have the feeling that anything is buried anywhere in the mix. Kudos to that! It’s also very nice that „less-packed“ passages really get the chance to really „breathe“. This song really proves that music can still have a very wide range of dynamics whilst constantly being heavy. It also boasts a second legendary moment for me on this album: at 3.01 the crunchy guitar with that odd-rhythm feeling… it is so beautiful and disturbing at the same time and really sets the scene for that powerful straight outro. Beautiful song.

8. Zeitgeist
This song has probably the saddest general vibe to it of the entire album. Even the vocals are screaming with a different kind of despair in them. Also the arrangement and the roles of instruments are re-distributed: The bass really shines during verse sections with extremely percussive melodic slap-playing. It sounds fragile in a beautiful way and is well-contrasted by the chorus as it sounds very solid - the rhythms are not too complex on this one which is a welcome alternative as well. Also, the famous „B-Section“ plays around with change of scales which really gets your attention again, as well as the really intended artificial djent part. And of course, resolving into a clean part afterwards. They are really throwing around key element after key element in this song in a rapid tempo, which is much fun to listen to!

9. Living Ghost
What I like most of the intro of this song is that one guitar at some point stops to play the rhythmic accents and resolves into a full-melody guitar. What really pleases me as well are the short fast beat and blast beat sections as they really give this song a juvenile, risky vibe. It really rocks hard: It’s groove is working very well together with the melodies. However, the vocals somehow feel as if they are more a background thing in this arrangement. They just do not sound as relevant in terms of phrasings and articulations. Which to me is perfectly fine: Even though you have a vocalist, you can’t center every arrangement around the vocals. Whilst the most of this song is kind of average, the end section really is another legendary moment of this record: starting off again with glitchy clean guitars, throwing the most suitable kind of stereo-panning delay on vocals and even going into fast beat feeling again! WHOA! I’m so in love with this outro…

10. Dream Sequence feat. Chris Thompson
With 5 and a half minutes, the last song is also the longest. And it really opens up the mood telling you: „relax, we have time“. The arrangement is slowly building. And although it’s getting heavier and heavier it still sounds very calm - even when the vocals come in. To me, it really feels like dreaming somehow. Performing music in such a heavy way with a constant relaxed vibe to it is something that I do not encounter that often. It feels very warm and welcoming, so that you can really dive into this song and groove along. And it doesn’t get boring: towards the end, you find a totally different use of instruments there compared to the rest. A string section is coming in - perfectly matching the rest of the band arrangement, while it fades out. The final seconds of this album are filled by only the string section, leaving another legendary moment as a final impression. I really love how the melody is played so little out of key. It sounds so honest and authentic!

The overall impression of „Epiphany“:
Well, it might be that it is autumn and that I tend to listen to heavier music during autumn and winter every year, but it might also be due to other reasons: Epiphany is an album that I really needed in this moment. It feels like its energy is matching my own energy at the moment. I also hear it as a very authentic album: Napoleon really got comfortable in their style of writing music and progressed. Every arrangement is rock solid: some are more stable, some are more daring. And this is leaving a nice spectrum of heavy songs on this album. I am also still fascinated by the word „melodiposipassiongroove“. It suits their style of music so well! There are many bands creating their own „genres“ - Napoleon is one of those pioneer bands that really put their money where their mouth is: and actually define a justifiable genre if you ask me. Otherwise I would have described this album as one of the happiest metal core records ever, or as the heaviest pop punk album you’ve ever heard. I also love how the production evolved from Newborn Mind to Epiphany: While everything is still sounding strictly clean and tidy, this album sounds way less sterile, thanks to the drums and bass. It is way more pleasing to the ear and finally a heavy record in a long time that was not exhausting to hear through in one session. I love it!

My rating:
Strongly recommended!

Favourite Track:
Diamond In The Rough

That was super much fun!

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