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Now that everyone is listening to French black metal, especially the bands who draw specific influence from or who can trace their inspiration back to Vlad Tepes, Belketre and Mutiilation, it shouldn't be necessary to preface this review with a long discussion of what has come before. I'll skip the history lesson this time. The music:
In my two earlier Celestia reviews I think I mainly concentrated on the fact that this band, through their music, were trying to force, in a crude manner, a temporary breakdown of the walls between worlds. Celestia have said on quite a few occasions that they simply do not care who their influences are, who they are referencing or what they are referring to, etc. I can swallow that, although it takes a few tries. On the first few listens this will sound like another backwards-looking Black Legions dust-off and spit-shine, perhaps the VT/B split played backwards for kicks, channeled through Filosofem-era Burzum with a demented Muppet on vocals. It gets better, let it age gracefully in your wine cellar. Take it out every now and then, maybe on Halloween, and let it breathe. Said Muppet is actually quite a nice guy [horror!] and has always "helped out" my wretched black metal addiction, so be sure my pre-AIDS Henson spin is nothing but nostalgic. Pleasurable, even? Noktu has an idiosyncratic voice, I've touched on that twice already. In a scene full of Norwegian/Swedish clones, he actually tries to do something original [and succeeds] - mostly by blending/saturating his Gallic phlegm gargles with constant vulpine bays to The Dark that no doubt dwells within his black leather-laced form. There isn't a formula to it, he just tries to make the external match the internal, like the rest of us hacks. His internal world happens to sound different - he's lucky. I love his voice because it often sounds just like a little French girl talking to her favorite rag doll in the middle of the night…only this little girl probably has something wrong with her mouth. Daddy still loves her, though. Corpse calls, deadspeak, dreamshrieks, backwards incantations, unholy rolling. Once again he summons up the spirit of Darby Crash and then eats him. Crash goes down whimpering, but what else did you expect?
Other than that? Slow, ponderous, willfully obscure, obfuscated [add your own adjective here] treble-broadcasting simplistic black metal with tremolo-picked patient mist melodies and fog chords, creeping in under the door, climbing the walls, black fingers pressing against the wall between worlds. If the guitarist used a Telecaster I wouldn't be surprised, that jangle is definitely here. The falling away melodies that start in the middle of the sixth track, with the slow rain shower of keyboards behind them, are particularly effective. Also noticeable is the last track, where Celestia chase a blur tempo and almost catch it in the name of transcendence. Evocative? Dreams constantly being referred to, the desire to die and to dream eternally, to step into the world of dreams. What else is there? What else is worth talking about?
The artwork is simply beautiful.
FMP is still too elite to recognize the Internet, so Noktu stepped up to the plate and sent me this himself. And even though it was smart business sense on his side to do so, as I have given everything he has ever sent me a "good" review, I still appreciate the gesture. Get this already. What else are you going to do with the 15 dollars left in your back account? Buy food?
As an avid supporter of the extreme metal label Full Moon Productions, I must confess not everything Jon has put out I have either not been a fan of(Willow Wisp) or never gotten around to listening. France's Celestia is one of those I missed when he released it, and it's a shame because Celestia offer a more romantic style of black metal than most bands would completely foul up.
Celestia as mentioned plays a style of black metal that many fans and diehards would find completely "gay" or "wimpy". This is simply not the case here. Plenty of passages of melancholic riffs and painful shrieks mixed in with a somber atmosphere. In some ways the sound production offers a total Goth atmosphere that you can hear easily on any Fields of The Nephilim or early Sisters of Mercy album but also as any Horna release. There are plenty of metal riffs taken from the NWOBHM genre but also a melodic take on their Norwegian counterparts. Vocalist Noktu conjures up vocals that sound a lot like Dead(R.I.P.) from Mayhem. On the subject of the lead singer, I am really surprised how he was once a member of Genocide Kommando which was nothing but pure fucking hatred and raw, uncompromising black metal.
There aren't any songs that stand-out, or anything that is a hit or miss, but for the most part this album weaves in an out of a bout of bad depression. There's also a hint of corruption of the soul which is nice and some other negative emotions, but for the most part this is an album that you have to sit still and take in most of the time. Definitely not a song with fan favorites and definitely not an album that has any intention on making songs which are live staples. Just stand long enough to in the mist of the funeral fog and you just might find an album that will probably be talked about (be it negative or positive) in years to come.
Warmly buzzing through its eight tracks, this accessible disc is a re-release of an album put out by Full Moon Productions in 2002, apparently with a faulty mix. Five years distanced from its birth, Apparitia-Sumptuous Spectre can hold its head proudly aloft as a solid entry into the melodic-yet-raw arena of traditional Black Metal. Burzum is of course cited as an influence, but this album is too controlled and well-produced for that comparison be considered valid. To this reviewer’s ears, Apparitia-Sumptuous Spectre can trace its lineage to In the Nightside Eclipse, with less frozen fury and much more individuation of instruments. In fact, it is in the high, clear passages of guitar that this weapon truly shows its edge. Expected buzzsaw drones alternate with guitar phrasing that is obviously influenced by the grandfathers of Heavy Metal. Snippets of Priest, Maiden, and even Accept surface in areas, particularly noticeable in the final moments of track five “Spectra.” A perfect release for the Black Metal fan wanting to balance the depressive with the heroic, but not willing to compromise with weak blackened Power Metal hybrids.
-originally written for Oaken Throne 5 (Summer 2007 issue)