There is something really special about Iapetus‘s latest offering, The Long Road Home, a vortex of everything good that exists in technical, progressive metal. Honestly, this record floored me the first time I gave it a full spin. This is not a difficult album to enjoy; it is in fact a pleasure to listen to, both as a reviewer and as a new fan of the band. Iapetus, in actuality, is only a couple of musicians and a collaborator at its core.
Matthew Cerami plays all of the stringed instruments, Jordan Navarro plays various “things” and they are blessed by the talents of Nick Shann on both the recording and drum programming fronts. Together the combined efforts of this creative pool has produced one of the strongest and most sensible metal records that this reviewer has heard in years. For not really being a focused project, this record is better than most offerings from full-time, fully fleshed out groups.
The Long Road Home is a wondrous journey of intricate guitar playing, natural sounding drum programming and fluid songcraft. Taking your first steps on this epic path is completely captivating and fully immersive. One thing any listener is certain to notice is that the musical adventure is vast and technical, full of delicate moments revealing vulnerabilities not usually explored in the metal world. The songs are tightly written and played, delivering lots of emotional content outside of the usual mania-inducing brutality found on ninety-five percent of most death metal releases these days.
“Of Hangmen & Vertebrae” is a delightful intro track and pretty much encapsulates the general feeling you’re going to come across all over this album. It starts with sparkling clean-tone guitars that shimmer, cascading their notes through the cosmic void leading up to the eventual supernova of their distorted counterparts. The guitar playing is so good that the lead and rhythm work are seamless and interchangeable at all times.
There is something distinctly “tight” about the guitar work on this album. It sounds nothing like Necrophagist and yet there are microbursts in the playing style that remind me of the German shredders. Where Necrophagist was all bombast Iapetus play a much more melodic and more tuneful variant of technical death metal. I mean you can’t deny the obvious progressive elements featured all over this record, as in the later half of standout track “Lachrymae Rerum”. This track is sure to become a favourite among their established fans and newcomers to their intergalactic riffage.
Easily a top pick among many of my metal loving friends and fellow reviewers The Long Road Home dishes out abrasive, melodic and, most importantly, soulful songwriting. It is a monumental record in scope and epic in its execution. The clean acoustic strings that pop up all over this record are a welcome change of pace from the everyday technical death metal we’ve all become accustomed to. Never sounding pieced together, somehow this album just sounds more “complete” than many other releases this year.
“My Father, My God” is another standout track that delivers upon everything it hints at during its opening moments. Lush acoustics, frenzied drumming and blistering fretwork during the amplified moments of the song accompanied by its long, bass heavy bridge. The samples layered over top of the music are some of the most effective I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Combined with the heavy throbbing bass line it makes for a very intense few moments of supposed “downtime” among the chaotic spectrum they have produced. It is enough to send chills down your spine.
Iapetus deliver a stellar “must own” experience in my opinion. They have crafted a record that is both powerful and beautiful at the same time. Certainly the only word that really sums up the sound of the album accurately is to call it majestic. These talented dudes have unleashed upon the unsuspecting world a precious gift that should not go unnoticed and hopefully won’t be ignored by the majority of forward thinking metalheads.