Beyond the Dust is a French progressive metal band which has a very potent future on the evidence of debut album Khepri. It is not a release which puts the band up alongside the weightier and more robustly adventurous protagonists of their genre, but one which suggests with the ripe potential coursing through their songs, that the Paris quartet could find that success some when within their evolution.
The band made a potent introduction to themselves with their six-track New Dawn EP in 2011, a release which led the band to shows with the likes of Periphery, Sybreed, Protest The Hero, Monuments, and Becoming The Archetype. The song Reality Deformed opened up a new gaze of attention with its unveiling at the beginning of 2012; the song which featured ex-Aliases singer Jay Berast already showing hints of the new maturity in songwriting and sound which is ripe within Khepri. The band signed with Dooweet Records last year for the release of their first full-length, it a 57 min concept album which has been compared to “references like Dream Theater’s Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory mixed with Meshuggah’s Catch 33 and Periphery’s albums.” That might be a grand suggestion for Khepri but certainly Beyond the Dust has grown in creative strength and imagination between releases and this certainly lights up the album.
A mature male voice sets the scene as first track Rise waits in the shadows to reveal its presence. It is a dramatic scene being cast under a stormy sky, one soon joined by the melodic charm of guitars and a darker foreboding bass tone. Similarly the ambience of the track becomes thicker in dramatic hue, providing an intriguing premise that Meshuggah bred enterprise agitates and ignites. The instrumental is a captivating opening to the album, alone sparking the imagination and anticipation of what is to follow.
Clarity is the next offering, its own elegant start a potent coaxing before being immersed in a vibrant but cloudier weave of riffs and rhythmic incitement. It is not a particularly stormy encounter though and is soon mixing in peaceful melodies and certain emotional calms, but still prone to eruptions of raw vocals squalls alongside the predominant clean delivery, as well as fierce intensive roars of sonic voracity. The track continues to seduce and blaze away in ears, the band persistently impressing in craft and ideation but, and something which applies to most of the album, not finding that final spark to push the band beyond familiar territories.
After the Light is a valiant attempt though, a voracious predator from the start but guided by the excellent clean tones of the vocalist and almost as swiftly twisting into unexpected and compelling detours. The song is quite gripping, luring in close attention as you wait to see where it goes next, and it does not disappoint with its imagination whilst still managing to stay within the original framework of the song’s tempest. There are moments where it veers towards the precipice of too much but always turns away and explores new just as sonically theatrical and engrossing ventures. A proposal to take your time exploring, much as Khepri itself to be fair, it emerges as a peak of the release which grows even more impressive over time.
A smoother embrace comes with Relief, melodies and harmonies as resourceful as the guitar escapades and vocal variety. There is a small sense of flamboyancy through the solo which will appeal to some and maybe less to others but it is the lack of the bold almost warped ingenuity of its predecessor which prevents the song lighting emotions as potently. As a rapacious melodic rock track though there is little to ignore and refuse, much as with Last Breath, though the song is much more volatile emotionally and aggressive creatively. The further into its short but eventful body it travels, the greater the creative temptation discovered where again a more twisted invention is allowed to flirt with the listener even if in short doses.
Both Zero and Silence and Sorrow have the imagination heavily invested and ears fully attentive, the first a tenaciously expressive and inflammatory instrumental coaxing thoughts and emotions into the savage jaws of its successor. The most carnivorous track on the album, riffs and rhythms a barbarous incitement, the song proceeds to explore a sonic tapestry of bedlamic enterprise and melodic ingenuity. Funk, jazz, and math rock all seem to have a part of its breeding whilst the ever impressing vocals in their harmonic styling only add to the magnetism of the tempestuous encounter. As After The Light, the track stands as a pinnacle of Khepri, the moments where something new is truly breached.
The three parts of The Edge of Earth and Sea complete the album, each a part of an epic twenty plus minute narrative also standing well individually if taken that way. Part 1: The Tears Of Departures is a mellow and evocative embrace, though as expected it has a fiercer energy to its air and a darker nature to its shadows. They subsequently boil over into a brawling hardcore-esque vocal expulsion over jagged riffs and tingling melodies, the evolving vocals and warm guitar expression ensuring though that there is plenty of adventure in the growing maelstrom, a stormy scene which slips into again the more restrained and charmed opening to Part 2: The Fear Of The Journey This in turn rumbles with storm like emotion and intent across its colourful and technically extravagant soundscape. The mid way collapse into hellish domains, where the safety of the narrative’s protagonist is lost, suddenly ignites the track to new heights matched by the voracious stalking of the senses from riffs and rhythms. There is a new inescapable drama to the scene which you wish was there sooner and longer as Part 3: The Bliss Of The Gathering comes in. With its rugged terrain and hungry hostility aligned to harmonic reassurance, the bliss of its title seems to come at a price thematically, but with a new pleasing adventure offered to the listener.
It is potent end to a fine first album from Beyond The Dust, not one to rave endlessly about but easily a release to recommend progressive metal fans take a good look at. Khepri is a seriously solid and enjoyable proposition, not pushing the band above the crowd but with songs like Silence and Sorrow and After The Light showing flair and promise which definitely excites, it hints that their time in a singular light will surely come.
Khepri is available via Dooweet Records now @ http://dooweet.bandcamp.com/album/khepri
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