At some point, the labels we apply to bands to describe which sub-genre of metal they might fall under become both cumbersome and limiting. Take Parisian six-piece Promethean, for example. I could tell you that their 2017 debut EP, ‘Aloades,’ currently available on Bandcamp, is a "Blackened symphonic death metal record with touches of tech and thrash, and lyrics that center around Greek mythology". That’s 18 words and some punctuation that might give you an idea of what the band sounds like, but does nothing to tell you whether or not this record is something you’d want to listen to. A review that ended there would be poor indeed. And while I’ve yet to see even a to-go sized bag of Pizza Combos for my pseudo-journalistic efforts here at Metal Abyss, a poor review is just something I can’t give you. 'Aloades' opens with 'Le Supplice Des Aloades', which roughly translates to "The Torture of Aloades". 'The progeny of Poseidon' and 'Iphimedia', brothers Otus and Ephialtes inadvertently killed one another while trying to spear Artemis, who had taken the form of a white deer. What better way to bring this myth from antiquity to a modern audience than with Nicolas Cardoso’s alternating blackened screams, fierce growls, and a metal symphony to rival Septicflesh or HB? I can’t think of one, and thankfully Promethean couldn’t either Musicianship? As if you had to ask. I’m still at the point of fandom where I can be blown out of the water by the talent of (relatively) young musicians and their ability to coalesce the sound they create into something you want to hear time and again. As someone who may or may not have a shrine to Mike Portnoy in his closet that his wife would find quite creepy should she ever discover it, metal albums often live and die by how well the skins are beaten. Promethean’s Leo Godart plays exactly what he should; adding Neil Peart-esque rolls to 'Niobides' and transitions that are both disarming and understated in 'The Plague'. The foundation he lays for the other 5 members is not just competent, it’s vital. I’ve argued in the past that if you’re going to incorporate even a synthesized symphony into your metal band, you need to go all-in. A track that features strings in a bridge or a choir that bookends another song does not a symphonic metal band make. Promethean’s intricate weaving of classical instruments is deft and belies the fact that this is the band’s first recording. Axel Hurard’s work on the keys never overshadows and is never overcome by the rest of the band; it plays both with and against the traditional band instruments to create the tension and drama that can only be found in proper symphonic metal. At 4 songs and roughly 21 minutes long, 'Aloades' feels very much like the opening movement to a much larger work. And in speaking with Promethean's gifted fret board manipulator, Gaetan Marquer, he tells me that a new single is on its way soon in preparation for the band's debut LP later this year. Of course if you find yourself in Paris this week (and really, who hasn’t fallen asleep in the suburbs and woken up in a random major city?), you could tell the band to hurry up and get that thing out there yourself, as they’ll be playing Metal Sphere on March 9th and 10th. If you could also ask them to send me snack foods, preferably the cheese-filled pretzel kind, that’d be great. I'm willing to cover shipping at this point. Rage on! JPR
Enjoy Promethean's guitar/bass playthrough of the song "Niobides"