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Underrated Melodic Theatrical Black Metal - 85%

TowardsMorthond, July 13th, 2011

Constructed in the tradition of conceptual representation through musical drama in the classic style of the ‘rock opera’, The Cainian Chronicle unfolds its thematic events in storyteller fashion, utilizing melodic riffs and theatrical but not overly-embellished songwriting in an effort to visually evoke a nocturnal world of primal origination recalled in silent primordial remembrance, of a time and place experienced in disbelief through obscure dreams, a revelation of arcane mysteries of the essence of being, and a foreboding prophecy of terrifying destiny. Orthodox yet instinctively fluid drumming that nicely accents riffs through a variety of interestingly patterned cymbal hits provides a solid percussive stability of rhythm, while guitars use the black metal standard streaming style of melodic speed riffing, transitioning in seamless fluctuation as sections shift to reveal new thematic developments, utilizing clean tones in isolated passages to conjure the spirit of solitude or the dark embrace of sober realization. Vividly atmospheric guitar leads dynamically articulate the specific mood of thematic events to emphasize their significance and illuminate abstract components into harmony with elemental features of compositional framework actualized by supporting instruments, similar to the way Mecryful Fate used solos for thematic highlighting and conceptual clarity of structural design.

"Goat horned god
Wandering free in the woodlands and mystical forests
To thee I owe my manhood
For thine sexuality is untamed and pure"

Vocals impressive in their diversity and range of dynamic expression in piercing shrieks, grim croaks, shrill screams of wrath, along with clean melodic singing and ghostly female vocals, effectively represent characters in designated sections, unify with riff pattern and tone reflecting moods, structurally formatted to parallel lyrical events in tempo balanced in varieties of speed tempered by mid-paced movements defined by trance-like guitars and measured, simplistic drum beats given satisfying detail by a clear Unisound production which keeps drums thin and somewhat mechanical in sound, but not lacking in presence and assisted by the fundamentally sound and energetic drumming shared between Kjetil and vocalist Kaiaphas. Structured with the aid of a strong sense of theme development and conceptual vision, these songs exemplify the poetic flow of black metal composition while maintaining sharply detailed sectional divisions corresponding to an evolving storyline, distinguished by explicitly melodic songwriting executed with pronounced musicality, making this one of black metal’s more musically accessible examples that remains faithful to the spiritual essence of the style. In the thematic exploration of mythology within pagan spirituality and vampyric lore, the music sets a dark and solitary mood of primeval loneliness and enraged sorrow as existential qualities contracted in the formation of being from deep within the earth, dramatically portrayed in the music’s atmosphere, with particular attention directed toward the mystical ambiance generated from entrancing keyboards as a representation of esoteric mysteries inherent in human nature.

While not a top-tier release of the genre, The Cainian Chronicle is nevertheless a captivating and intriguing album, overlooked due mostly to the embarrassing and shameless efforts that followed that scarred Ancient’s name, particularly for those whose introduction to the band originated with those heavily marketed and widely available poor works. In its communicative imagination and involving compositional design contrasting the clarity of spiritual enlightenment with the enigmatic nature of originative force, this album successfully achieves its attempt of using dramatically unfolding structures expressed in the tenebrous energy and aesthetic of black metal to represent the search for archaic wisdom in the dark destiny of life as a journey towards death.