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Enemy of Reality - Arakhne

Enemy of Reality - CD Review

Enemy of Reality - Arakhne

CD Info
FYB Records
11 tracks
English/Greek lyrics

I’ve been a fan of Iliana Tsakiraki for some time. She is many things, a fantastic vocalist, a spokesperson for the genre and, if you are ever lucky enough to meet her, a warm, fantastic person. And I’ve never heard anything by her that wasn’t first rate. In fact, the only remotely negative thing I can say about her work is that it’s even better live, as she and the band proved this Fall at MVF 2016. This is cinematic style symphonic metal, the music is only part of the product, although, a very good part. But seeing it performed live puts it on a different plateau.

There are various reasons for this. One of the most important is that the two Enemy of Reality releases focus on Greek Mythology, why not? They’re Greeks. And, the band enlists this in their live performances. Iliana showed up at MFVF 2016 in makeup drawn from the script and did a thoroughly dramatic presentation of tracks drawn from the release, to the delight of the assembled crowd. So, I guess it’s appropriate to get into the story a bit; EoR doesn’t do boring stuff, it’s all blood and guts, in the finest tradition of Greek mythology. If there ain’t no dying, you just ain’t trying. And, in this one, we go beyond that. The long and the short of it is that a young Greek girl seems to be good with a loom, weaving tapestries that are the envy of all the young lovelies in the area. The girl’s name is Arakhne, which, sometime in the not too distant future, becomes a word associated with spiders, at least in this part of the world. But, I digress. Anyway, lots of folks, and not a few Muses, come by to check the artistry and walk away suitably impressed. Unfortunately, the whole thing goes south one day when the Muse Polymnia shows the Goddess Athena a tapestry depicting the story of Narcissus (for those of you unfamiliar with that term, think of the upcoming President of the US ((POTUS)); works perfectly. On multiple levels.)

Well, anyway, did I mention that young Arakhne was rather fond of herself and her work, a trait also associated with our incoming POTUS, and, like our esteemed leader, wasn’t afraid to mention it to anyone who might be willing to listen (“I make great tapestries, no one makes better tapestries than I do, people marvel at my tapestries.”). When she made an appearance on what passed for corporate media at the time and it was overheard by the aforementioned Goddess Athena, certain problems arose. Specifically, Athena decides to investigate and shows up dressed as an old woman to get to the bottom of things. She likes what she sees but not what she hears and warns the little tart against the sin of self indulgence. Arakhne calls BS and issues a challenge, which the Goddess picks up. As the competition heats up it’s clear that our little hussy is a great weaver but a poor judge of appropriate topics; she weaves humiliating scenes of the gods taking advantage of mortals (here comes that POTUS thing again) which really pisses Athena off and she decides to do something about it. She destroys the loom and tapestry and then does a final number on our self absorbed heroine, one that leads to extra extremities on the body of the wee lass that do little to enhance her sex appeal.

Well, that’s the overview, now lets talk about what it sounds like and look more closely at some of the thoughts.

My interest in the work gets off to a soaring start with the symphonic opening, appropriately titled “Intro”. This is some cool stuff, but the coolest thing is the lyrical work that appears throughout the track. I’m advised it’s in Ancient Greek, how cool is that? Can’t tell you what it means, I don’t even understand Ancient American. But, it has to be good. And it leads to the following track, Reflected. This one is a duet between Iliana and Fabio Lione, at least on this release. At Oktoberhallen, Fabio was replaced by one of my favorite musicians, Wisconsin’s own Kassandra Novell. Didn’t notice any drop off whatsoever.

Weakness Lies Within is a bit different, musically. Our lady gets to show off the vox here and it’s truly a treat. There are background vocals and a killer guitar that blasts through towards the end, EoR is fine guitar music, with or without the symphonic.

Time Immemorial slows it down a bit but this is metal; the vocals a bit more dramatic, the pace varied. We get some harsh vocals here, they provide a more sinister component. Piano and dubstep sounds, crushing. Thoughts here?

You’re lying, through your teeth / Never had? You had the thought of torture young souls?
The taste of power is sweet, take a sip! / There’s no regret in this corrupted world.

Nouthetisis may be my favorite song on the release but that’s a hard call. The track has a lot going for it, not the least of it being the guitar work of Jeff Waters (Annihilator). But the intro may be even more provocative. Here Iliana goes soprano, again in Ancient Greek, but with a totally different approach that sends chills up and down your back. We then check in with some of the best symphonic metal on the release, meshed with alternative male vocals and drumming from the land of the dead. It should be noted that the mixing on this release was done by George Emmanuel who has credits including Rotting Christ and Lucifer's Child, which is not something one would want to ignore.

But the truly destructive material, lyrically, may be found in Showdown which is just that. Iliana is joined by Chiara Malvestiti (Therion) and the two perform one of the finest and most crushing symphonic, operatic duets ever. Chiara was at Oktoberhallen and this was a damn treat. A lot of people were too devastated to clap when this one finished. Lyrically, the girls suggest their characters didn’t really get along.

Time is ripe, for your pride to drown / willful notions, take a stand in this showdown
Weaving, spinning, here unfolds my tale
Warp don’t fail me, for this time I must prevail

A number of enchanting tracks follow, each providing it’s own perspective on the story with a musical vehicle designed to enhance those thoughts. In Hiding takes us to solid riffing that moves to that choral augmented symphonic, followed by a ripping guitar solo to send you on your way to the next track.

The final track, A Gift of Curse, makes sure we understand that not everything ends well for our 8 legged heroine. This one will take a long time to get over, both for her and for us. EoR leaves us with a killer track that features pretty much the entire symphony of excellence. Lyrically we are reminded that messing with the gods is not always good business and can have certain down sides.

Thou shalt not die, chose to defy / Thou shalt not die, tears have run dry
Thous shalt not die, you can’t deny / This gift of curse

Here is how your story ends / A day to remember
As Arachnid now it’s time / to survive

Be forever cursed / start to melt your skin
So, right before your eyes

Well, we all have bad days, some worse than others. But, there is always something good to look forward to, lots of bugs out there. But EoR has provided us with a treasure here. Hard to imagine how they’ll top this one, but I have an idea. And, I plan to introduce it to Iliana in the very near future. Until then, this one comes in at 10/10. About as good as it gets in this genre.