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An undervalued masterpiece - 90%

slaythylight, September 11th, 2010

It has always boggled my mind that this album isn't in every Black Metal fans top ten list of greatest BM albums. Released is 1998 it is very much a product of its time, though this in no way hinders its impact or cultural relevance. At the same time when other meisterwerken were seeing the light of day (AttWaD, Nightwing, Nemesis Divina, to name a few...), Supreme Immortal Art was largely ignored, overlooked, or forgotten. Why? The answers put forth have always boggled my mind (such as over-written, poor production, too keyboard-oriented, etc, etc.).

The album is Symphonic Black Metal to a degree that would rival the compositional efforts of Emperor, Limbonic Art, or ...And Oceans. The song structures on display here are complex, deep, intricate and emotional. No doubt that this was achieved to a large degree by the core trio working with two other keyboard composers throughout the course of the albums recording. This in turn lends the finished product depth and scope unfound in prior or future works by this monumental band, with the keyboard elements largely disappearing altogether in favour of a more grind/math inspired future. One of the only real criticisms leveled against this album has been the heavy handed use of keyboard in the songs; this 'criticism' has always confused me, especially when taking Emperor and Satyricon of the era into account.

The songs themselves are always cohesive in relationship to one another, and epically broad in scope when taken as a whole. The lyrical concepts behind the album include satan, but rather then a comic book version of some Dark Lord, Satan here is envisioned a a real, decrepit, corrupt, and powerful force in equal measure. Other lyrical themes that are woven within and around that of daemonology are loneliness, isolation, revenge and despair; a far broader gamot to run at the time.

The vocals are perfect in execution and production, as are the lead guitars and keyboard. The single reason why this true work of art does not receive a 100% from me is the production on the kick drums and snare. The drumming by T.T. is (as always) some of the best in the genre, but a touch higher volume on the kick drums and some more depth/reverb on the snare would have been PERFECT. As well, some of the rhythm guitar/bass lines could have been clearer in the mix, and more depth through bass. Oh, why I wouldn't give for a copy of the master tracks! The samples are all taken from a single film, and fit the themes of revenge, betrayal and isolation perfectly.

Every track is sublime, but some of the standouts are 'Soil of Souls,' 'Eclipse My Heart/Crown Me King,' and the single greatest track, 'Blood and Soil' (truely one of the best Black Metal songs ever written and recorded!).

Ignore the detractors, and listen-really LISTEN-to this album. You will be well rewarded!

'Is there hope for the blood of life? Or... will I always fly alone?'