Ephen Rian - The Special Referendum (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Ephen Rian

The Special Referendum (2005)


I guess bad American trends have finally found a way to permeate into European musical culture now. Such is the case with Austria's Ephian Rian, who take a heavy new era of Underoath influence, speed it up a bit, and make it their own.

I'll give credit where credit is due, these five guys pull off the style to a tee. The whole sing/scream dynamic is about as tired as anything right now, but remarkably, I can listen to this album without wanting to drive chisels into my ear canals.

This stems from the fact that even though they're making music in a played out style, the level of talent they possess is pretty obvious; this is especially important with the guitarists. Markus Garstenlaeur and Stefan Salcher share a terrific dynamic, battling back and forth throughout the entire duration of the record. One focusing on the heavy riffs, and more breakdown oriented material, the other in command of the melodic undercurrents and speedy clean riffing that drive the majority of the rhythms. The songs are quick and to the point, not sticking around to mess with a lot of the trivial bullshit just for the sake of it that so many bands fall victim to. Both the singing and screaming vocalist can hold a tune in their own right, moreso the latter, but like the guitarists they work well together no matter how frenzied the pace.

Wasting no time to get into the swing of things, "Strike Me Deeply" establishes the band as a force from the get-go, proving to be one of the album's better tracks. The guitar work absolutely shreds, not allowing for a second of breathing time, especially when used in conjunction with the heavier, distorted riffing holding everything together. Lead singer Klaus Schraml doesn't have the best voice, but his delivery comes in short and effective spurts, often accompanied by the loud shrieks of guitarist Stefan Salcher. "Watch the Skyline Bleed" (I know, I know) is the most hardcore sounding effort on the record, with Salcher finally given opportunity to take the song and run with it, and his blistering solos drive underneath the breakdowns to create a smooth sound with just enough roughness on the edges.

I really can't stand the style of music, but I'll give credit where it's due. Ephen Rian are a band on the rise, and with plenty of talent and flare, they're surely headed to the top of this sinking ship.