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Moving Through These Empty Halls - 80%

dontcountonit, February 7th, 2011

Elysian Blaze is a blackened funeral doom band from Australia. This band is actually a one-man band under the control of Mutatiis, who performs everything on this record. Though it is just Mutatiis, he has crafted some of the most original albums of the new and flourishing style.

This is the second album released by Mutatiis under the moniker of Elysian Blaze. Having only been released one year after his debut, "Cold Walls and Apparitions," this new album contains an even darker and more gloomy sound than the one that was found on the previous record. This album is one that just pushes you down and down into a cold depressive state.
This album contains only 7 tracks, yet is over an hour in length. Almost every track on this record is over 10 minutes, with only the opener and closer tracks being under 5 minutes. This can be a bit exhausting due to the length of each song and the nature at which the song will travel.
While the overall sound of the record is most definitely black metal, the more doomy elements are intertwined with these more traditional moments. This record moves at the speed of a black metal record from the 90's scene, almost mid-paced at most points, but speeding up or down after short bursts. This can be useful in just entertaining yourself whilst listening to a single song since they are so long.

The more funeral doom elements are due to the use of heavy and encompassing reverb. This record is practically drowning itself in it's own atmosphere. The use of such a dark and massive sounding atmosphere creates a cavern-like vibe to this record, feeling as though one is simply watching this guy perform all of this from the top of a cliff, while he is stories below playing it.
The use of keyboards gives this album a different feeling. While the keyboards on here are played in a traditional use, for the doom and funeral doom style, they add a new layer to this dirge of an album. The keyboards are usually played in a piano/organ format while being somewhere between the guitars and the monolithic atmosphere. So the keys and their effects can be a little off-putting due to how up-front they are in the mix.
Vocally, Mutatiis is not doing anything on this record that you've haven't heard from other one-man bands in this field. Most of the vocals are screams with the occasional spoken section, but it's nothing special. The vocals only add a sense of darkness that cannot be expressed in the music by itself in an instrumental form, and that is what the vocals do on this album.

Sigh of Night is an interesting track due to it being the shortest actual song on here, being about 10:30 in length. It showcases more of the doom style being very slow in nature and featuring some cool keyboard work. But what makes this track stand out is it's use of ambient music experimentation. While about half of the track is metal, it shifts into a hypnotizing ambient piece. This adds to the complexity of this recording as well as to the building of the music's atmosphere that will be expanded upon the follow-up track, Eclipse.
Beyond The Shape of Mortality is another track that changes things up. Being the longest song, at about 14 minutes, it moves across all the areas in Elysian Blaze's sound. From the ambient setting of it's simple beginning, to the funeral doom portion of the dreary piano that gently plays throughout the track, to the black metal aggression, to the doomy atmosphere, this is everything that this band is and has done within this boundary up until now. What really makes this track stand out though, is the use of the piano. Using this instrument in an almost neo-classical way really changes this track for the better and makes it much darker and easier to listen to in it's entirety.

Overall, this record has it's rare moments of beauty and multiple moments of aggression and depression, but that's what makes this record different from it's piers. This album is for people who like a dark atmosphere in their music and can tolerate long songs. While this may not be a stand out record or a record that defines the genre, it does have a sound that many people are unfamiliar with before listening to this album.

Highlights: Macabre By Thy Blood, Sigh of Night, Beyond The Shape of Mortality, Levitating The Carnal

Originally written for:
http://dontcountonitreviews.blogspot.com

A perfect marriage of black metal and funeral doom - 97%

dystopia4, December 30th, 2010

This is seriously one of the most original black metal albums I have heard in a while. While many black metal bands go for a full-speed-ahead assault, Elysian Blaze slows it down to the snail's pace of most funeral doom bands. The atmosphere is also very similar to that of many funeral doom bands. Keyboards and piano is what truly makes this album so unique. The atmosphere on this album is unlike anything else I've ever heard. It makes me feel like I am in an old European cathedral one hundred years ago.

Elysian Blaze plays some of the slowest black metal you will ever hear. This makes their music sound very cold and detached. The keyboards and piano is used just as much as the guitar. The ethereal keyboards go very well with the slow, cold buzzing drones of the guitar. They have a very prominent echo, which is probably what implants the image of a cathedral in my mind's eye. The frequent use of reverb also plays a part in this. One of my favorite parts is at the end of "Sigh of Night" when the black metal fades out and we are left with a repeating psychedelic sound scape. It draws me into a trance every time. One of this albums biggest charm is the piano melodies. They are unique and perfect for this kind of music. Sometimes they are fast and suspenseful, kind of like something you might hear on the score of a thriller movie. At other times, they are slow and somber, adding a great deal of atmosphere.

There is only one minor thing that keeps this album from being perfect. The drums sound like they are programmed. They use an awful lot of cymbals, which in itself is not a bad thing but a little more variation would have been nice. They are not bad, I just think that they could have been a bit better. I understand though; it is not easy making every part amazing when you are in a one man band. If a talented live drummer was used on this recording, it would have easily gotten 100 percent from me. Maybe I am being a little bit too picky. Don't get me wrong, the drums don't take anything away from the album, I just think they could have been a bit better.

From start to finish this album is a journey. A casual listen to one of the songs might make you think this is just another average depressive black metal band. This album needs to be listened to in its entirety. I recommend listening to it late at night in the dark on a nice pair of headphones. One thing that makes this album great is how diverse it is. The experimental outro track reminds me of "BassAliens" by Sunn O))). Most of this album reminds me of nothing, because it sounds unlike anything else. Such a unique album is really refreshing in a time where so many bands are happy to sound like 1000 other bands. If you have an open mind and are ready for something new and interesting, this album won't let you down.

Spirit and night, be by my side... - 90%

Weerwolf, September 18th, 2010

Many reviewers seem to be pointing out that this is so-called depressive or suicidal black metal. I think a monicker like that is quite hollow and doesn't really say much and frankly it's, in my opinion, not an appropriate way to describe the vibe that has been created by Mutatiis. It bears a lot more resemblance to the old greek scene or some of the more obscure french albums. It has that mystical shroud surrounding the recordings, something which has been done before quite succesfully by some of the older greek black metal bands. Obviously, it's not exactly an uplifting experience as there are quite a bit of heavier doomy parts to be found. Above all this is a black metal album with some faster moments as well as some mid-paced action and a slow, crawling pace. I think this album has in the instrumental department two major strenghts, the riffs and the piano. Both provide for a rich texture, but equally allow one to fully develop seperately, providing a nice variety, throughout the rather long duration (luckily, it never feels like it's a long album, on the contrary). Like in the greek tradition, riffs and keyboards were often an important part of the sound and that's exactly what's going on here as well.

Next to those, this album has an impeccable production, which gives it a very distinct character. It's quite raw and hollow and it sounds like it has been taking place in a cathedral (like the one shown on the cover of the album). This was clearly an intentional move done by Mutatiis and he certainly managed to create the desired effect. Hopefully we'll still see the release of [i]Blood Geometry[/i] this year, but so far it looks rather doubtful. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone who likes the mystical offerings of elite bands such as NECROMANTIA, LUNAR AURORA, URFAUST, ...

Depressive BM done right - 89%

doomgrind, September 22nd, 2007

Elysian Blaze is a one-man black/funeral doom metal band hailing from Victoria. When you hear funeral doom in a genre description, you generally expect slow, trudging tempos with very little emphasis on technical song-writing and more on 'atmosphere'. While Elysian Blaze is a very atmospheric band, the song writing is well thought out and the music is quite up tempo, bordering straight out black metal in speed in places, making Elysian Blaze not a blackened funeral doom band but a black metal band with funeral doom elements.

The atmosphere is what really gets me into this. The reverb used makes the albums sound cavernous, especially when used on the vocals and drums. The imagery and aesthetic, combined with the music, creates dark, majestic atmosphere, conjuring up mental images of ancient cathedrals and halls. It's very soothing and beautiful, once you're into the album. Repetition is very frequently used throughout the album. I never find this boring or tedious, I just feel very mind-numbed, and don't notice how good the album is until I've finished listening and find myself thinking, 'wow, that album fucking ruled'. The entire album is very ambiental in the way guitars and synths work equally together. Production, though nowhere near professional studio quality, is good, murky but still clear enough to allow you distinguish all the instruments at work.

The guitars and synths form the backbone of the music here. Rather than the guitar being drowned out by the synths or visca-versa, they are used equally, effectively making both instruments and ambient backdrop as much as the focus of the music, blurring the line between guitar and synth. This leaves little room for any memorable riffs. The only riff that stood out was the opening riff for 'Macabre be thy Blood', a slow, menacing riff complemented by simple tinkling on the piano, which, by the way, is used quite effectively and to compliment riffs and drumming. The piano is used pretty much throughout all the songs, particularly on the track 'Eclipse', filling in spaces between cymbal hits to form the flow of the song. The vocals are excellent, a really raspy growl-scream, not annoyingly high pitched. In quite a few of the songs, the vocals are often sparsely used, resulting in brilliant instrumental work and creating a hypnotic mood. Drums are pushed back quite a bit in the mix, and the kit itslef is rather minimalistic, with only the various cymbals, snare and bass. Cymbals make up the rhythm of the music and drumming, with snares thrown in the slower to mid-paced sections, and bass drum rolls used excessively in the faster parts, and plodding along in the slower parts. There are a lot of ambient interludes played on synths and pianos/keys, like the droning pulse before the demonic vocals kick in on 'Macabre be thy Blood', as well as intros and outros, like the leads up to 'Beyond the Shape of Mortality' very dark, subtle and slow shifting, to the majestic choir from the outro of the title track. They get rather tedious during a casual listen, but if you put this on in the background or are really relaxed, they are very soothing and provide some respite and variation from the guitar/synth duo.

To be honest, at a casual listen the band seems like a generic depressive BM band; ambient interludes, excessive synths, even ambient intro and outro songs. But give it a chance, it's a cut above the rest of all the other suicidal BM bands out there, with subtly unique imagery, if not a slightly typical aesthetic dealing with death, nature, suicide and the like. A very promising release from an upcoming Australian band. If you completety detest any kind of 'depressive' black metal, then stay away, but if you can get past the typical suicidal BM elements, there's a brilliant album to be found here.

A haunting, fantastic experience. - 87%

tomservo, April 12th, 2007

Reverb. This album has a lot of it. However, the more I listen, the more I’m convinced that it’s extremely effective for Elysian Blaze’s unmistakable style of Black Metal. Like the album cover hints at, the music in this release quite literally sounds as if it’s coming from down the hall of a large cathedral. Listening to it is recommended only with headphones, and as Mutatiis has stated in interviews, total darkness is also encouraged.

But there’s more to this release than meets the eye. Although some may argue that the production could be used to cover up sloppy playing, or a sign of lazy recording, it’s obvious that the haunting echo is intentional. It effectively has a way of making the drums seem even more intimidating than your standard metal blast beat. More often than not, the drum beats are accompanied by percussive piano melodies. The drumming makes great use of the cymbals as well, creating a crashing barrage. I have a feeling that Elysian Blaze will often be compared to Xasthur, even though they’re quite different. While Xasthur’s synthesized drumming is extremely prominent, Elysian Blaze’s seem quite a bit more subtle. But that’s what makes the drumming intimidating in the first place, because it’s hard to notice it at first, but after several listens, you may start to pick out more and more drum hits.

The vocals range from steady growls, chanting and almost a hissing shriek, but tend to stay fairly minimal in their inclusion to the record. Most of the writing is instrumental, letting the piano and drums take care of most of the percussion. The guitar at times can be a little bit on the quiet end, but I’m almost certain this was done so as not to drown out the piano melodies. In fact, it’s quite strange that an album with such little prominent guitar work would be considered Black Metal in the first place. However, the appeal of this album is downright blasphemous, and will definitely appeal to anyone looking for an atmospheric experience.

I don’t think this will be Mutatiis’s best work yet, but it’s certainly a strong one, and worth many listens. It can be extremely haunting and invokes a great deal of energy, despite being somewhat of a slower tempo than normal Black Metal album. Much respect.


Originally written for http://www.probablysmug.com/

The Second Coming - 95%

Perplexed_Sjel, February 14th, 2007

Elysian Blaze, the 2003 creation of it's solitary member Mutatiis, are a Black Metal band with elements of Funeral Doom Metal also. Signed to Asphyxiate Records, a major label it must be said, it proof of Elysian Blaze's undoubted raw talent.

"Levitating The Carnal" is the second outing from the Australian outfit and is an awe inspiring journey of the soul. Mutatiis creates such ethereal beauty with his minimalistic approach to Black Metal and Funeral Doom. "Levitating The Carnal" is primitive and raw throughout. Crunching and distorted guitars, distant wails from beneath the mire and furious percussion sections that create a haunting and lifeless atmosphere. Elements of the Dark Ambient genre can be found also, in my opinion. Piano interludes and ambient sections making for a highly enjoyable (Or as enjoyable as possible with such raw music) listen. The music itself portrays images on vast empty landscapes, lifelessness and isolation from mankind and existence. It's repetitive and depressing. Innovative and highly dynamic, Elysian Blaze has the ability to capture the listeners mind and entrance it for the duration of the record. This is a particularly good ability to have considering the lengthy nature of the songs. Never do the songs become tedious or overbearing, they're always surprising and beautiful enough to captivate the listener and keep their attention. You'll find you have the ability to lose yourself in the music and open yourself up to the experience that is Elysian Blaze. With excellent songwriting, Elysian Blaze are consistent and possess a certain style that many bands will no doubt attempt to replicate in the future. The music is despondent, atmospheric and clean. Instruments are clear, giving the listener the chance to indulge in the brilliance that is Elysian Blaze without have to struggle to hear about a poor production or overbearing vocals. There is enough distance between all instruments and vocals to ease the listeners worries. The band manages to avoid cliché exceptionally well. Never falling into the category of so many bands who have merely attempted to replicate sounds instead, Mutatiis creates his own beautiful and melancholic masterpieces.

I struggle to point out any noteworthy highlights as the album is practically flawless. However, i will highly recommend Eclipse and the self-titled track Levitating The Carnal.

Heavy-going, exhausting but magnificent experience - 97%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 29th, 2007

I'm quite awed by this album by the Melbourne-based one-man project Elysian Blaze. He plays depressed, suicidal minimalist black metal with strong doom influences so as you'd expect the pace of the music ranges from moderate to fast and there are lots of thrumming guitar runs, fast drumming and sometimes bombastic percussion. But the treatment of the music as a whole is so different from the usual neo-primitive / non-existent / shitty facilities style of production: Elysian Blaze's sound is very full and has a lot of space and depth, maybe too much space and depth, so the singing sounds distant, anguished and lost in the deep dark spaces. The guitar sounds raw enough as though its parts are among the few to be recorded in a deliberately basic and primitive way to contrast with the huge amounts of dark space in the recording, and of course this helps to give extra depth to the album; by contrast, the piano parts have very clear and sparkling tones so the music sounds grand, majestic and tragic at the same time. Technique is not a big thing here, the guitars are mostly minimal and the piano-playing is not elaborate: it sometimes gets right down to two-finger playing in the style of Burzum's "Filosofem" at times, and as with that famous work, the effect here is plaintive and increases the sense of existential loneliness and isolation in a vast, uncomprehending and impersonal universe.

Most tracks are very long and not especially melodic, and they tend to explore and push a particular mood or feeling to the utmost so the music is not easy to listen to. Some of the more ambient sections of the music such as the first and last tracks and a small bit at the beginning of "Eclipse" can have a deep, gloomy outer-space feel similar to the deep space of dark ambient artist Lustmord's music. The whole album could be a soundtrack to a strange and multi-layered movie epic: the movie would feature a bewildering variety of sets that match the music, from scenes featuring fragile and sparkling crystal palaces to go with the trilling piano and delicate keyboard effects, and other sets would hold monstrous and forbidding alien castles to go with the dense minimalist black metal guitar strumming and pummelling percussion. I am thinking here of Elias Merhige's experimental /horror movie "Begotten" which actually I have never seen but which I understand features a scene of a god disembowelling himself and other scenes detailing human pain and suffering, and the sacrifice of an alien mother and child. The movie itself is aged to look like an archaeological artefact and indeed the black metal parts of "Levitating the Carnal" sound quite old.

Though it's very heavy-going, what with the deep spaces, the bleak and despairing outlook and the extremes in power and dynamics scaled (the music can go from quiet and delicate to brutal and pulverising in almost the blink of an eye), the album needs to be experienced in its full 60-minute-plus hit so the full gamut of emotions and moods which are strong and deep can emerge and be appreciated. The record is a deep immersive experience and you can easily lose yourself in the music's deep vistas. (I'm almost starting to sound like I'm talking about the inside of Doctor Who's TARDIS but the record is a bit like that.) Every element here - black metal guitar, doomy percussion or fast black metal drumming (and you can get both together at once on the same track!), grand piano, the occasional choir, a chamber music quartet on one track - helps to emphasise and if necessary push further a mood or particular idea within the overall theme of the soul attempting to escape and transcend the wretched physical plane of existence. The vocals can sound very lost in the music and perhaps there is not much screaming but if the singing was more upfront in the mix there might be some other loss in the music, or it would appear less epic and more song-like than it should. The pivotal track on the album is the title piece which features balalaika-like black metal guitar, thunderous percussion and a quasi-spiritual / religious atmosphere but I prefer some of the earlier pieces like "Eclipse" which has a long running coda that keeps keys in the guitar chords and which increases the sense of unease in the track.

The care and thought that went into the making of this opus extend to the sleeve presentation which features photos of a huge cathedral or university building taken in ways to emphasise the structure's alien organic quality or to direct the viewer's gaze up and beyond the architectural limitations which represent the chains of the physical universe.

I should add too that you are likely to feel very exhausted, maybe even purged emotionally, after hearing this record.