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Wednesday 18th October 2006
The Old Angel in Nottingham, UK
Having been incredibly impressed by Ephel Duath's set at the Progpower Europe festival in Holland just over two and a half weeks ago, I decided to check them out again in the far smaller confines of The Old Angel in Nottingham. During recent years, the term 'progressive' has been (mis)used so frequently in the music press to the point where, for many people, it has become ambiguous as to what constitutes a progressive band. Ephel Duath are, however, indubitably progressive both as a band and with the music they play which is simultaneously creative, intelligent, innovative and genuinely original. It can be loosely described as a jazz -metal fusion, but that doesn't begin to convey the complexity and diversity of their compositions. During a conversation earlier in the evening with Davide Tiso, the band's guitarist and founding member, he agrees with me that Ephel Duath make audibly challenging music and suggests it probably takes around 5 or so listens before you can properly 'get it'. I learn that Davide plays guitar for around 6 hours a day and spends most of his time composing, leaving little time for a social life. Although wanting greater success with Ephel Duath, he would be just as happy playing to only their sound engineer as he would a large audience. Davide is a very sincere individual and wholly dedicated to his life as a musician - it is rare to encounter such commitment and musical integrity. This sincerity translates into his compositions through the originality and emotionally provocative soundscapes characteristic of Ephel Duath's music.

With the venue around half full, Ephel Duath appear on stage at 11:20pm. They begin with 'New Disorder' from 'Pain Necessary To Know' which sounds as good as it did two and a half weeks ago in Holland as a set opener. Their sound engineer, who was also on the desk for them at Progpower, does a great job tonight in providing a well balanced and clear mix but with such complexity in the music, I guess they always need somone on the desk who's fully conversant with their songs. Recently recruited Sergio Ponti spends most of the set reading from sheet music, as he did at Progpower, and his virtuoso drumming is astounding. In fact, every band member is a virtuoso in their own right, even vocalist Luciano Lorusso George who screams with impassioned conviction and performs with an almost emotional bi-polarity. Fabio Fecchio's incredible bass playing is perpetually inventive while Davide Tiso's guitar work (about which he's very modest) is awe-inspiring through his mellow jazzy interludes, technically impressive leads and aggressive, often jarringly dissonant chords. Collectively, Ephel Duath's live performance oozes pure musical emotions. 'Labyrinthine (Crimson)' sounds awesome tonight with its jazz-funk bass lines and instrumental sections reminiscent of a heavied up Mahavishnu Orchestra. 'Crystalline Whirl' also impresses as it culminates in an upbeat climax with some clever guitar harmonics. However, half an hour into the set and midway through 'The Passage (pearl grey)' there is a sudden power failure (although the amps seem to still be on by the sound desk), and Ephel Duath stop playing. After a couple of minutes, someone appears on stage to announce that the power has gone (which is sort of pointing out the obvious) and they're trying to fix it. Five minutes later the power returns and it's revealed through a second announcement that the band won't be playing anymore as it should have finished at 11:00pm anyway and everyone is asked to leave the venue!! Everyone's disappointment is evident, though people are seemingly very appreciative of the half an hour of material played. Although the set was cut prematurely short, Ephel Duath were stunning tonight - musically sublime and total virtuosic brilliance.
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