If you like Science Fiction combined with epic, progressive death/black metal you may already have heard of Rapheumets Well. Hailing from Hickory, North goddamn Carolina, they’ve put out a self titled demo and two full length albums before releasing Enders Door – a humongous piece of synth driven, border line operatic, epic death/black metal.
A note before diving in: considering the dark and brooding roots of death and especially black metal, Rapheumets Well is a fine example that things have changed quite a bit in the past decades as far as public persona goes. While their music has all the trappings of extreme, if melodic, metal, Rapheumets Well do have a rather relaxed attitude to their image. A recently uploaded video on the band’s Youtube channel reaches unbelievable levels of sympathetic goofyness, as a man I have to believe is Toby Keith in warpaint markets some of the band’s very ambitious and cool merchandise, including a graphic novel.
The music is very much all-out from the get go, and it is not difficult to hear that seven musicians were involved here (five permanent, two session members). From the black metal side, Dimmu Borgir, latter day Emperor and Hecate Enthroned are all probable or at least possible influences, but the list could really be expanded indefinitely. Limbonic Art is another obvious go-to reference when talking about this stuff from a BM perspective. Moving over to death metal, Swedish dystopian death metal act Overflash springs to mind, as well as a long series of tech-death bands. In fact, almost all possible forms of blackened death metal and deathened black metal pass by here, with an all but constant presence of one or often more layers of synthesizers being the connecting factor.
Tempos shift wildly, there’s a multiplicity of vocal styles (including but not limited to screams, growls, male cleans and female cleans) and somehow it feels like this is an album where everyone just did everything as much as possible. Does it work? Sure it does! The production is far from super-clean, which could perhaps have been expected from an album in this genre, but I believe that this is a good thing in the end. The slight bleeding of sounds and reverbs into each other, and the murky fuzz and heaviness of the strings make for a more organic experience than would have been possible had this been too “perfect” sound-wise.
The album concept is incredibly complex, and as indicated earlier revolves around a Sci-Fi theme. Bizarrely, despite being called “Enders Door”, it apparently has nothing to do with Orson Scott Card’s series of Sci-Fi novels beginning with Ender’s Game. Rather the story is based around a “multiverse” developed by the band members themselves. A space traveler encounters a world inhabited by a “mysterious species called the Dreth, led by a lecherous matriarch named Eishar”, and uncovers a “faced-door”. Doubtlessly, the graphic novel will clear this stuff up for you, in case the lyrics fall short.
To sum this album up, it is necessary to underline two things: Enders Door is massive, balls to the wall, in a sense very American in the old-school sense of bigger-better. It does not let up for a moment. It is also, for all its dramatic, heavy and violent darkness somehow rather filled with joy. For something so complex and bulked-up, there is a real sense of fun emanating from every track. Whether delivering rabid tech-death riffs over hyper fast blast beats, or introducing female vocals over multiple layers of synthesizers, strings and double kick drums, Rapheumets Well keeps it intense and inspired. In plain barbecue metaphor, this is Lexington style, Eastern style and Pork ribs served with all sauces at the same time – in space!