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Oof. Full Moon Productions. Not off to a great start. And a Danish black metal EP from '98 that served as a tombstone for a band with only demos before? Yeesh. This is gonna hurt. AND only two of the tracks are black metal? The other three are ambient pieces including intro, outro, and interlude?
Oh man. We've got some High Art on the loose.
Let's get these done right off the bat: all the ambient stuff cannot be defended. They sound like they were taken off a Cradle of Filth album, and I don't mean a good one. They're cheesy, lame, and poorly composed- the intro with its wailing souls and DRAMAPIANO, the interlude with its cringe-inducing recitation of Lord Byron, and the outro with its... more wailing souls and more piano. They're terrible, no-good, very bad pieces that do nothing but make this music that much more embarrassing to listen to.
But let's move on to the two black metal tracks instead. 'When Coldness Wraps This Suffering Clay' starts off mildly promising with its flurry of blasts and textured tremolo riffs, but then drops into a godawful rock passage and basically stays in a holding pattern there for the rest of the song, broken up only by a tiny handful of uptempo passages dotted throughout the interminably long running time of the song. The band is transparently unable to actually WRITE an eight and a half minute song, so they do the next best thing: combine random halves of about five other songs and pray to god the listener doesn't notice how incongruous and abrupt everything this. The riffs are artificial, alternating between Emperor ripoff tremolo riffing or Darkthrone circa 'Total Death'-ripoff chug riffing, and neither is particularly satisfying, nor are the lurking background synths that... just kind of sit there, not doing anything. The real thing that kills this is that there are faint glimmers of hope when the band is blasting and playing aggressive riffs- you know, actually playing black metal instead of lightly jogging in place with clean guitar sections and rock beats. But whatever. 'Memento Mori' fares no better, really, with its dramatic, ostentatious, slow riffs derived from old Enslaved but with the pop amped up. The female vocals that pop up on this track do little to dissuade me from the Cradle of Filth comparison- the only difference is that band was a hell of a lot more memorable than these guys ever were.
I would call this a historical footnote, but that would mean they actually made it into a book somewhere.
This piece of art is absolutely brilliant. The mood that it sets out to instill in its listeners is accomplished twofold. There are basically two identities to this EP. One is the power-driven Black Metal side and the other is a beauty which can only be found in the hands of the most talented of musicians in the Black Metal scene, and that isn’t an understatement by any means. These guys can play their instruments very well. Mix in a few innovative ideas and you’ve got one of the most creative mini-albums released during the 90s.
There are five tracks here, and only two of them can be considered Black Metal. No worries here, though. The brilliance of these two songs alone will make up for any wrong misconceptions (not to mention “When Coldness Wraps This Suffering Clay” is over eight minutes long). The first “song” is actually an intro featuring distant cries of anguish and finally ending with a piano piece. The second song is the one that is stated above, and hearing this song is what compelled me to write this review. It is a split-personality of a song in essence. There are many different styles portrayed throughout this song, but the most amazing part of the whole sequence is midway through. The guitar takes full form and dominates the listeners’ ears, leading them into a trancelike state almost effortlessly. The guitars are both beautiful and dangerously malicious in this behemoth of a song. Definitely the standout track here. Next up is “Darkness”, a very moody and well-placed piano piece complete with a tale featuring two men conversing about the death of light. Their voices have a very morbid tone that fit this EP great.
“Memento Mori” is the next track. The guitars storm in with a melancholic blow, but not after a few seconds of a violin composition aided by a female’s beautiful voice. The riffs here are absolutely amazing once again, and on this song, some of the vocals sound like they are given extra force. But that’s not to say the vocals are weak in any part of this EP. The final track, an intro, is really a teaser to the listener. It is both melancholic and mysterious, fronted by a piano (yes, it is used quite a lot) and more cries all with reverb. I say it is a teaser because it leaves the listener wanting so much more from this band, and this did have an effect on my score. It would easily have reached a higher percentage if there had been more here. Anyways, anyone looking for great, maybe… dare I say “sophisticated”, and truly melancholic Black Metal with surprisingly good production, definitely seek this out.