Ephel Duath

Through My Dog's Eyes

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Lest you think Ephel Duath are being cleverly oblique with the title of 2009's Through My Dog's Eyes, be advised that the Italian avant-garde entity's fourth album is just that: a philosophical attempt to envision the world from a canine's point of view by focusing on instinctive feelings of rage, loneliness, protectiveness, etc. As Frank Zappa would probably have put it: "Arf!" Come to think of it, Zappa's music (or perhaps Mr. Bungle's) is a much more appropriate launching pad for listeners discovering Ephel Duath's post-metal experiments for the first time, since a few coarse vocals and accelerated drumbeats here and there are pretty much all that's left of the group's original black metal qualities. Heck, even fundamental rock & roll building blocks are in short supply as the vast majority of this music resembles a drunken sort of jazz fusion, filled with lurching deliberate tempos, nonlinear arrangements, minimalist ambient ruminations, and even occasional mock horns (see "Breed," "Bella Morte," "Spider Shaped Leaves," etc.). What few tracks actually do retain straightforward rock structures inevitably dive off the deep end of possibility at some point, anyway. Among them are "Promenade," which grinds like the Melvins and leaves vague reminders of Alice in Chains at their most sonically lysergic and disoriented; the excellent "Nina," which contrasts a Helmet-like start-stop economy with syncopated vocals reminiscent of Sparks (!); and album bookends "Gift" and "Bark Loud," with their country-flavored slide guitars weaving and winding about the linear chord riffs and melodic lines. It also bears mentioning that most of the album's nine tracks segue into one another uninterrupted, thus infusing a greater sense of flow that counters some of the wide-ranging sonic schizophrenia within. In sum, misinformed extreme metal fans expecting the usual sensory overkill from Through My Dog's Eyes will probably think Ephel Duath are literally barking mad (sorry, couldn't resist), but open-minded explorers (and Mike Patton fanatics) will likely feel that it is quite simply the dogs bollocks (damn, did it again!).

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