Prophecies of Annihilation
Progressive Death Metal
Canada’s Cholera releases their debut full length this year, Prophecies of Annihilation. The album displays the progress that the duo behind the band has made ever since the release of their first materials with their 2009 Enslaved Humanity EP, written only when each of the members were a mere 16 years old.
The album opens with Road into the Fire, and the middle-eastern influence in the music is immediately obvious, and the urgency and the speed that the band goes at instantly brings comparison with bands such as Melechesh. The middle-eastern sound will make repeated appearances throughout the album and this is certainly a unique and nice touch to the over-saturated (and usually boring) progressive death metal scene. Raph’s vocals alternate between cleans and deep guttural growls, and those torturous growls certainly help in adding to the heaviness to the music, while his clean vocals help to bring out the heavy emotions in the music, such as on Enslaved Humanity.
The progressive metal and progressive rock elements are also extremely evident in the music, with moments such as the keyboard-wankery at times reminding listeners of bands such as Dream Theater in their prime. With the album, Raph proves himself to be a multi-instrumentalist in the true sense of the word as he handles not only vocals, but also the drums, guitars and the various other ethnic instruments with ease. Besides the constantly shifting time signatures (which would have already messed the hell out of many drummers), his speed and precision are also present, helping to keep up the intensity of the music. The guitar solos and riffs that are unleashed are also extremely technical, yet he executes these without missing a single beat. Reminiscence sees Raph displaying his capabilities on the cello with the extended intro. It is also on this track where bassist Matt gets some personal airtime, with the bass solo in the middle of the track.
The songwriting abilities of the band also shines through as the album progresses. Besides the middle-eastern influence that they have included, the band has managed to inject elements of emotions such as desperation and sadness in the music, such as on Enslaved Humanity, putting a touch of (ironically) humanity in the highly technical environment. This is also later done again with the usage of the piano towards the end of The Lost Traveler. The band also constantly shifts between heavy moments and lighter moments with much ease (such as the transition between Opeth-esque heavy chugging and the keyboard driven atmospheric section on Enslaved Humanity), ensuring that the listener is always kept in a suspense, wondering what is going to happen in the next moment. The keyboards also play a vital role in the music, shrouding the music with a heavy atmosphere on top of taking the role of the lead instrument at times. There is hardly a boring moment or a moment wasted at all on the album, and this is evident from tracks such as The Lost Traveler, with a running time of 18-minutes which would have easily put me to sleep if not for the surprises throughout the song.
There are couple of things that could have potentially brought down the enjoyment of the album. One of the first thing that strikes the listener throughout the album is the production quality of the album, which unlike many progressive death metal bands, is raw and unpolished. Another thing was the usage of effects on the clean vocals, such as those on Road into the Fire, and those definitely get irritating after awhile. The band also alternated between a compressed sound and a full sound on the music, almost confusing the listener.
These can make listening to the album for the first few times difficult, but after repeated listens, one can easily get over the production quality and enjoy the ingenuity of Prophecies of Annihilation proper. One more hint: remember to listen to this record at high volumes on your speakers!
Interview with Cholera