“The Epilogue to Sanity” marks the second chapter on this new incarnation of the band with ever growing results. After the (very) promising “Angel of Disease,” Phantom manages to deliver a new album with a consistent renewed vision of black metal, both keeping some stylistical features all while expanding them into a new body of work, even more sinister and gruesome than anything previously released.
This album “The Epilogue to Sanity” album is similar in riffing to “Angel of Disease” yet it has a more ferocious pace and delivery, aided by a darker and more morbid atmosphere. There is a death metal feeling in many songs, both in pacing, riffing and sometimes even song structure that provides a more sinister atmosphere to the listening experience, which is perfectly mixed with the trademark baroque influenced style that Phantom used in the first three albums, the masterpiece “Withdrawal” obviously included. This album, just like “Angel of Disease” and “Withdrawal,” acts as the spiritual successor to the war metal of bands like Beherit and Incantation.
Phantom’s drumming remains more or less the same in style, although this time he adds an extra effort in brute force, blasting with savage brutality and performing with a bit more variety, and technically (something black metal isn’t that well known for).
Since the album has a more sinister and darker feel than your typical modern black metal band, I feel the deep guttural vocals to be very fitting, although it is still strange to hear such vocals in a Phantom album.
The most amazing aspect of “The Epilogue to Sanity” is, besides the riffing, atmosphere and intensity, is the songwriting. Phantom crafted some of the best and, strangely, most complex black metal hymns with careful melodic progressions and thoughtful structures, delivering a sense of variety, heaviness and dynamics that is very much lacking in modern blackened death metal music.
The album features both supremely brutal moments, atmospheric suspense, technical mastery and even a quite “sensitive” construction, where the aim and the mood of each section effectively moves the listener to the place he needs to be.
“A World of Silent Darkness” for example, despite being one of the shorter tracks, moves from an arpeggiated mournful bridge to a ferocious barrier of blasting and dissonant tremolo riffing, just to fall into a more epic and melodic counter-point with brilliant phrasal riff progressions.
“Under the Mask of Prayer” also changes from a more standard brutal black metal punishment to an excellent break of melancholic arpeggios, only to return to a variation of the main theme with a thousandfold time the intensity and aggression.
In a nutshell, “The Epilogue of Sanity” is both raw and epic, brutal and majestic, disturbing and magnificent. It’s fairly consistent with Phantom’s recent great performances on all fronts – see my “Fallen Angel” review – the songwriting is great, the riffs are amazing, and the atmosphere is totally out of this world. Absolutely recommended for purchase.