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.

Sumphokéras is available from Amphitryon and Thundering.