Besides being one of the tiniest countries in Europe, Andorra isn’t known for having a vibrant metal scene. In fact, I don’t know of any band from that country. That’s about to change, because Persefone puts Andorra firmly on the metal map with their Shin-Ken album. Let me tell you, this record is one hell of an introduction.
Shin-Ken is a concept album, based upon several legends surrounding the infamous Samurai warriors from Japan. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the music has some Japanese inspired overtones, but mostly it’s blistering melodic death metal with a definitive progressive edge. Say old Dark Tranquillity/In Flames mixed with the technical finesse of Dream Theater, and a touch of the epic grandeur of Nevermore to spice things up.
It’s a daunting combination and it works very well in compositions like Fall To Rise, Death Before Dishonour, The Endless Path and Kusunagi. It’s hard to tell what the concept is exactly about, but musically it’s tied together by a set of interludes such as The Ground Book, The Water Book and The Fire Book. These function as a soothing counterbalance for the more aggressive tracks on Shin-Ken. It also provides the album with a lot of depth and texture.
The music presented on Shin-Ken is accessible and complex at the same time. The songs are well structured, but due to many sudden time shifts, technical riffage and breaks it may take a while before you’ll get to the essence of this album. Other great features are the dazzling guitar work by Carlos Lozano and Jordi Gorgues and the evenly proficient keyboard play by Moe Espinosa.
The clean vocals by Marc Martins might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they work very well in my book. The growls and screams are equally impressive. Finally the band handled the production of Shin-Ken themselves. They really did an outstanding job in that area.
Musically speaking there’s a lot going on Shin-Ken, so it may take a couple of spins before you’ll get to the essence. However it’s recommended if you’re into bands like Nevermore, Dark Tranquillity, Dream Theater, Symphony X and Nevermore. Great introduction!
written by Raymond Westland