Persefone reintroduces their progressive metal sound with a new vocalist and first part of a concept album on Lingua Ignota: Part I.

Release date: February 2, 2024 | Napalm Records | Instagram | Facebook | Bandcamp

Persefone is one of my favourite progressive metal bands of the past couple decades. They’re cinematic, melodic, versatile, and technically gifted, exploring heady concepts without sacrificing strong songwriting. Albums like Spiritual Migration and Aathma were magnificent, with equally soaring and vitriolic vocals provided by long-time member Marc Martins Pia. Pia left the band in 2023 to focus on his family. Persefone lamented this loss but soon found a replacement in Daniel Rodríguez Flys (of Eternal Storm). The subject of today’s review, Lingua Ignota: Part I, is the first release featuring Flys. So, does Persefone fold a new vocalist into their established sound or move in a new direction?

This first half of a two-part record is pretty squarely the former. The 5 Lingua Ignota: Part I tracks open with the fantastic opener “Sounds and Vessels.” At just over 2 minutes, it clearly is more of an opening interlude than the typical Persefone epic. Still, it is an impressive introduction to the two-part record and vocalist. Hard-hitting bass and arpeggiating synths build from atmospheric pads and echoing keys, underlying Flys’ increasingly intense vocal performance. The short piece reaches a crescendo of screamed vocals and rapid, distorted guitars. This introduction piqued my interest, just as intended while highlighting the composition and sound design that keyboardist Miguel Espinosa brings to the band.

From there, we move into the single “One Word”. The opening, hooky, syncopated chords move into anthemic waves of pounding guitars, tremolo melody lines, and throat-shredding vocals that evoke comparisons to Ihsahn and Gojira’s Joe Duplantier. The track evolves into the semi-operatic clean singing we’ve come to expect from Persefone’s melodic sections, revisiting the refrain introduced in “Sounds and Vessels”. Recurring motifs interlink the songs towards a broader concept I can only imagine will be further developed in Part II. From this single, it’s clear that Daniel Rodríguez Flys brings a more modern vocal style in his screams while keeping the nigh-operatic singing vocal style of the previous vocalist – layering vocals to complement the heavy and melodic elements of these epic tracks while bringing new influences and timbre to the band’s sound. Elsewhere, “Abyssal Communication” harkens new comparisons to TesseracT, with atmospheric vocal performances against cinematic soundscapes for potentially the stand-out track on the record.

This vocal versatility is heard in the baritone opening of the title track, where Flys layers his vocals over acoustic guitars before the band kicks in and the vocals gain grit. The towering piece, and longest of the five songs here at seven and a half minutes, uses some typical Persefone instrumentation but with a more contemporary edge, introducing sections that would not be out of place on a modern, progressive metalcore record. Single “The Equable” is similarly epic, building slowly from an instrumental opening to soaring choruses and incredible guitar work from Carlos Lozano Quintanilla and Filipe Baldaia.

If you were worried that a new singer would change Persefone into an unrecognizable entity, fear not. The band has always embraced various influences, genres, and textures, which is consistent on Lingua Ignota: Part I. Songs combine electronic and symphonic elements alongside influences from power metal, progressive death metal, and metalcore, impressively technical performances, and an unrelenting melodic ear. This could be said of Persefone’s music, but the new project is not a rehash of existing material. Songs like “Sounds and Vessels” and closer “Abyssal Communication” show that Persefone has only grown in their cinematic scope, while other tracks show the band’s penchant for epic, heavy songwriting is as strong as ever. At 5 songs and just over 25 minutes of run-time, my appetite is whetted and ready to hear how Persefone develops the themes and concept of Lingua Ignota: Part I on its sequel.

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