On Pangaea, Ecferus‘ second full length, the band uses adventurous black metal as a narrative to tell the story of planets, destruction and war. Through the use of varying tempo changes and, at times, suffocating atmospheres, the album plays out like a centuries old story passed down through the ages. It’s at times hopeful and others hopeless as the listener can only stand idly by and listen to the anger of the gods manifest itself. Much like the band’s debut Prehistory, creativity and imagination make for an enthralling listen that strays from black metal’s usual tropes.
Make no mistake, this is black metal, but its progressive in nature and removed from the tinny squeals and lo-fi production so prevalent in the genre. Sole member Alp has made tremendous strides in musicianship over his debut by stripping away some of the jagged edges in the songwriting. However that’s not to say this album is devoid of angular moments, rather this time they’re used more effectively. Here he finds the perfect balance of technicality and atmosphere to come away with a feeling of grandeur only hinted at on his debut.
As with any story there is an arc and the music here allows the listener to easily follow the path. For example, on “Creation of a Planet” the cyclical tremolo picked sections comes in waves, each wave gradually gets more aggressive — until the tension breaks at the conclusion of this building phase. Later, on “the Human Transition,” Alp takes advantage of suspense and dread with horror synth and effectively progresses the story from its creative onset to impending planetary destruction.
The musicianship, as stated before, is better this time out. Melodic chord progressions are still a staple but are more concise and clean. On the latter half, layers upon layers of intense percussion meet head-on with subtle atmospherics and lend heavily to the darker lyrical content. On the story-ender and album highlight “Storms Continue On,” Alp hits a vocal peak; growled shrieks cut the air like a knife. The music goes from a doomy plod to a beefy black metal onslaught, mirroring the obliteration of races and planets alike. The story of Pangaea comes to a close with all out apocalypse and even though this is a mythical story, one can’t help but wonder if humanity’s indifference to one another may have been the impetus for Alp’s songwriting.
With Pangaea, Ecferus continue themes of evolution, anthropology and social study in a way that is at once engrossing but at all times captivating. This effort is an overwhelming success due to Alp’s progressive nature and the way in which he very effectively translates this into his chosen story line.