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Stare Long Into Taphos’s “Ocular Blackness”


Taphos‘ death metal monochrome expresses and explores the nature of duality. Like most classic death metal, their kind manages to be heavy, primitive, chaotic, and technical; however, their music is also modernly refined and, at times, elegant. This Copenhagen-based band lurches as much as they groove, as is apparent on their upcoming debut full-length Come Ethereal Somberness. These qualities are especially present on the track “Ocular Blackness” (streaming exclusively below), whose straightforward verses are full of rhythmic twists and whose deranged guitar breaks have a logic to their melodicism.

Refining the style found on 2016’s Demo MMXVI and 2017’s EP MMXVII, Taphos continue to produce death metal which balances early 1990s Florida death metal technicality and aggression with Swedish melody and atmosphere of the same period. The sound and style of the newest album is certainly that of the underground Danish scene, though the approach they take to crafting death metal produces something distinctive.

On Come Ethereal Somberness, frontman H’s vocals take on a blackened quality, and the riffing and leads show a considerable thrash influence with their churning chromatics and shrieking solos. The guitar harmonies evoke the approach typical in Swedish melodic death metal, but they avoid the linear familiarity that many of such bands could be prone to. Conversely, the rhythm section pummels away without being sludgy or dragging. Taphos have thankfully abandoned the chthonic compression that was implemented fairly heavily on their 2017 release in favour of a much more transparent and balanced sound. Moreover, H has acquired a nice Tom Warrior-esque “UH!,” and the technical ability of the band has come along even further than what can be found on their 2016 demo.

Some of the melodies on Come Ethereal Somberness have a slight cheese to their sinisterness, evoking soundtracks from classic horror or science fiction movies (the riffs from “Impending Peril” would probably not sound out of place being played on a violin for the soundtrack of a movie like The Thing). Notwithstanding, Taphos muster a sheer aggression and raw energy seldom found in the oft-overproduced classic death metal albums of the 1990s. This, coupled with their chaotic song writing, allow them to pull off basically any of the musical ideas they have at their disposal.

— Emily Marty

Come Ethereal Somberness releases on June 8th via Blood Harvest.

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