Napoleon – ‘Epiphany’

By Dave Stewart

Okay, so picture this. Picture a band which is melodic hardcore at heart, but are too technical to sit in that category. That same band has a lot of metalcore influences too, but not enough to pigeonhole them in metal. Now, throw some prog into the mix as well as some very subtle RnB and funk based grooves. What do you call that genre? Melodic prog metalcore? Progressive hardcore funk metal? Truth is, it isn’t important what it’s called. What matters is that Napoleon are it’s champions.

Hailing from Exeter, Napoleon are one of the hardest working bands in the UK and have been grinding since 2011. Following up 2016’s ‘Newborn Mind’, their next steps come in the form of their latest record ‘Epiphany’.

If you’ve already been following Napoleon, you’ll have a rough idea of what to expect here. Big riffs and technical wizardry, courtesy of guitarist Sam Osborn and bassist Jacob Brelsford. Passionate and venomous vocal delivery from front man Wesley Thompson. The most important thing is, though, that there’s solid songwriting and creativity on show here and it is in high supply.

From beginning to end this record oozes diversity, but still presents Napoleon in the way they’ve always been. As individuals within an often crowded scene. Opener ‘Godspeed’ is full to the brim with unpredictable yet catchy rhythmic stabs, pounding drums and guitar licks as catchy as the vocals. ‘Zeitgeist’ is a perfect blend of calm and aggression, switching between them at all the right moments. ‘Diamond In The Rough’ is both a soaring and punishing affair, boasting the most metal moments of the record. Lead single ‘Ignite’ showcases every aspect of the band and what they do well. From the stripped back groove laden builds to the gigantic walls of sound in the choruses, everything is precise and powerful. That statement is true for the entire record. Very precise, and very powerful.

The standout track here is ‘Dream Sequence’, found towards the end of the record. It toys with dynamics and suspense throughout, rising and falling at the right times to cover your body in goosebumps. The melodies are beautiful. The vocals are well balanced between delicate and strong. The music is both simplistic and intricate. The whole album is full of layers, but they’ve been expertly stacked on this track in particular. They all come together to create an emotionally driven, punchy masterstroke.

On the whole, this record is a clear natural progression from their last. It is more technical, the big riffs are even bigger and the emotive vocal delivery is somehow even more powerful. This is the Napoleon you already know, only they’re bigger and better. ‘Epiphany’ is the most innovative, intricate and indulgent record of their career. It’s also the best (and the only) melodi-prog-metalcore record you’ll hear this year. If you’re aren’t following to them yet, consider this your epiphany. You need to start now.

DAVE STEWART

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