Amphitryon are one of the fresher breaths of metallic air I’ve experienced in a while. This French band’s music is hard to describe – a good sign. The melodic doom of My Dying Bride comes to mind at times. Other, more death metal-esque moments suggest the Egyptian parts of Nile slowed down and stretched out. The end result, though, is one of the more unique sounds I’ve heard in a while.
What sets Amphitryon are their bi-gendered choral vocals. Unlike the overbearing presentation typical for such vocals (Therion, I’m looking at you), they’re tasteful and integral to the music. I’m not familiar with choral music, so I can’t really pinpoint the band’s sources. Sometimes the vocals sound “church-y,” i.e., Gregorian chant-esque; sometimes they sound Middle Eastern, i.e., in Phrygian modes; at one point, they even evoke barbershop harmonies!
The songs on Sumphokéras (Thundering, 2006) wind through a rich array of feels and tones. This is one of the few metal albums where keyboards actually add to the music – lots of tasty flourishes, no obvious symphonic presets, etc. The production isn’t as large as it could be, but then again, this is (rather incredibly) a first album. I’m happy with the crisp, dry sound, and am amazed that the band shaped so many elements into such an elegant whole.