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Want factory-direct, purposeless black metal? Then go ahead and salivate to Limbonic Art’s next atrocious, manufactured heap of garbage. The level to which a band could produce such sterile, overly long video game background music astounds me. No energy, no inspiration, and over an hour and fifteen minutes of such dreck to drain the life out of you. It turns a dumpy whirl of waste into a monotonous, massive shit.
To go positive, I’ll hand it to the guys for certain riffs like on the title track and “The Supreme Sacrifice." Such riffs could have been utilized in a better way, but on their own they have potential. Going the black route, a band like Inquisition could have made a thrashy bridge with properly tainted atmosphere. Going the industrial route, a band like Ministry could supply a good beat or lick to compliment the riffs. Anything that results in a better outcome than the pathetic backing role Limbonic Art provided here would work. The band’s formula of desiccated riffs churned through surging amps does not correspond with plastic keys, tiresome compositions, trailing bass, isolated screams, and drum machine blasturbation. It’s a trainwreck that’s more or less a terrible attempt at merging black metal with video game music – and a bad Mortal Kombat knock-off kind at that.
Add Limbonic Art’s uncreative ability to try and fuse in dance drum tracks and we’ve got a collage of shit. That’s the problem with too many genres on an album – stretching everything out to fit all the junk (and without competent writing to do it). The product is black metal, industrial, electronic music, ‘90s radical video game music, and a failed endeavor at trying to make it all sound classy and evil. The band accomplishes squeezing in these genres, but nothing about this album is evil or prestigious. Don’t let the mutilated, saturated vocals and toy synths fool you. Ad Noctum’s as dark and evil as the Creepy Castle level on Donkey Kong 64. No amount of aggressive riffing, automated screams, and programmed blast beats can change this fact.
Nothing can be gained by listening to this clusterfuck of barking guitars, cheap keys, and assembly-line produced atmosphere as inert as stone Dragon Balls. To find black metal as long and soulless as this is like feeling a piss stain on the toilet seat unexpectedly after you’ve sat down. The anger that boils after such a discovery is only matched by the freedom one feels from never having to subject themself to this trash ever again.
How can I even begin to describe the greatness that is found in Limbonic Art's Ad Noctum: Dynasty of Death? Ad Noctum is definitely the band's best work and I don't think it will ever be dethroned. For starters, it has all the best ingredients of an extreme metal album. It's heavy as fuck, the dark and pulsing atmosphere is prevelant throughout, the lyrics are interesting and catchy, and the songwriting suggests that the band really put a lot of time into this. There's lots of variety going on. As far as performance goes, Daemon and Morfeus are really at their best.
Ad Noctum is best defined as the band's "bridge" album. It combines the epic, symphonic. and catchy elements of the previous albums along with the brutal, abrasive, and spacey nature of later albums. This is one of those albums where the the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, because the end product sounds truly amazing. The first thing you may notice is how loud the drums and the riffs are. Despite only using a drum machine, these guys really knew how to program it well. The percussions really make the music feel agressive and out of this world. The guitars come out very clearly, but are also so menacing. As opposed to their fuzzy or light sounds in previous albums, here they are much more noticeable and not buried by keyboards. The sound is BIG. Whenever I hear this album, I picture large asteroids and comets in space crashing violently into each other. I think of small meteorites pounding the hell out of random moons and planets in the darkest corners of space. Considering how many of these songs are astronomy-themed, Limbonic Art could not have done a better job providing the music for this type of setting. If you thought the overuse of keyboards and symphonies was in previous Limbonic Art albums, they have taken somewhat of a backseat to the rest of the music. They have a more faint sound in the background and are usually most audible within the slowdowns and quieter parts within songs. You could probably say that the keyboards are the seasoning while the guitars, drums, and vocals act as the main course. Daemon's vocals are at their best here, too. He's pretty consistent with those loud, roaring shrieks, but it's all performed very well. He never goes into that weird Shagrathy- style like he sometimes does in In Abhorrence Dementia or Epitome of Illusions. Whatever he sounds like, it's damn appropriate for this album.
The tracks on Ad Noctum are amazing and there aren't any fillers here. They're meaty and filled with tons of twists and variety. "As the Bell of Immolation Calls" is a classic, using a slow, progressive approach to build the intensity. Morfeus' guitarwork is stellar and makes the track that much more memorable. I would also like to point out how dark and hypnotic these tracks are. Despite the music feeling very loud and pronounced, the frequency and sound is done perfectly so that my mind is easily projected elsewhere. This idea really comes up in "Behind the Darkened Walls of Sleep", where the quieter, breakdown-like part has a tremendous hypnotic effect on the listener. The vocals come in faintly and random guitar notes are played, but the atmosphere is so dark, yet chaotic; almost like the process of a new star being born. If you want to feel more of the heaviness, the song "Dynasty of Death", serves as a great example of everything coming together at once. I love the effect of the drum machine because it gives the song a more mechanical, industrial feel. "The Supreme Sacrifice" even shows Limbonic Art's thrashy side....the band is in rare form here, hinting of a possible direction towards symphonic thrash metal.
I could go on for days about the greatness of these tracks. In fact, I haven't even brought up my personal favorite, "In Embers of Infernal Greed." But I don't want to spoil the whole album. As the listener, you can find a lot of cool things here. Even the title tracks are cool - they have sort of that connotation towards dark, objects in the infinite universe. Every little element here is congruent with the next, creating a product of supreme excellence. I'm sure many of you have heard many different symphonic black metal bands and extreme metal with space themes, but Ad Noctum: Dynasty of Death is tough to really categorize. It's something else completely, and damn, it's awesome. Go buy this one and take special efforts to go for the version with those bonus tracks. You don't want to miss a single second of this masterpiece!
Limbonic Art is a black metal band unique in many respects. Their career contained two break-ups and a substantial deviation stylistically from beginning to present. Daemon & Morfeus initially played a fairly pedestrian blend of symphonic black metal featuring an over-saturation of keyboards and overcooked pomp. Their later releases would feature a better balance between guitars and keyboards, but would lack the killer instinct present earlier on. The perfect balance was struck somewhere in between these two extremes. That balance resulted in Ad Noctum - Dynasty of Death, an amazing album that cannot be totally appreciated upon first listen.
An overwhelming wall of sound defines what goes through the listener's mind at first blush. The production is a fuzzy typical black metal mix in many regards. However, the difference lies in countless hidden hooks and melodies that slowly reveal themselves upon each subsequent listen. The songs essentially break down upon the listener, separating into multiple layers responsible together for the massive final sound.
Each song is it's own unique monster of an arrangement, from "Pits of The Cold Beyond" with its fun shout-along chorus to the crushing release of energy at the end of "The Yawning Abyss of Madness". The weakest track is surprisingly the opener "The Dark Paranormal Calling". The album quickly saves face with the unbelievable "As The Bell of Immolation Calls". After a three minute build up Morfeus breaks into one of the greatest mid-paced black metal riffs ever heard, which serves as the main foundation of the song as the momentum continues to build for six minutes thereafter. The average song length is well over five minutes, yet surprises lurk around every corner; such as the choral-driven "Timor et tremor..." section in "Pits..." or the fucking awesome "Locus Reconditus Occulta Tenebrarum" during the title track.
Daemon employs a varied harsh vocal approach which alternates from a typical black metal croak to the multi-layered roar which turns heads in "The Supreme Sacrifice": a new definition of primal rage. Morfeus contributes an avant-garde edge with his six-string aptitude and keyboard theatrics. His departure left a gaping wound present on 2010's Phantasmagoria, which pales next to this release. As stated above, a perfect balance was struck between the guitars and keyboards. The keys lend a synthetic, "spacey" sound with tactful use of patches and orchestral voices. The keys no longer sound overtly cheap, a fault which brought down Limbonic Art's previous work and neutered the sinister overtones.
The biggest surprise is the complexity and brutality of the guitars. Most people wouldn't expect Limbonic Art to come to mind concerning killer riffs. "The Supreme Sacrifice" showcases some of the best blackened thrash riffs of all time, combining thrash sensibilities along with chugging mayhem. The mix favors the guitars and while still a typical lo-fi black metal production, gives the six-strings plenty of breathing room and clarity. The infamous drum machine ties everything together with complexity and variation that only a programmed kit can deliver. The triggered bass drums help hold the listeners hand throughout some of the more intense moments. The toms also sound clicky as well, resulting in a very unusual drum mix especially evident during tom rolls and fills.
It has taken years of listening to Ad Noctum - Dynasty of Death to fully appreciate its value and contribution to the genre. Limbonic Art would split up after the next album, reform on 6/6/2006 but never again come close to this opus. A perfect score is out of reach due to the aforementioned weak opener and the uneven drum sound. Regardless, this is a can't miss.
Prime cuts: "As The Bell of Immolation Calls", "Dynasty of Death", "The Supreme Sacrifice"
I know I chose a strange header, but that's basically what Limbonic Art's "Ad Noctum – Dynasty of Death" sounds like. The atmosphere it creates is very dark, but at the same time very "spacey". When listening to this under black metal default settings – i.e. in a dark room and/or at night – and at a reasonable volume level, it really feels like sitting in an gloomy gothic cathedral, with these two guys’ (Morfeus & Daemon) noise reverberating from every wall and the electronic elements adding the spacey, aural feeling.
The term "symphonic black metal" is usually used to describe very epic pieces, taking a lot of time to build up and develop song structures, and Limbonic Art's previous albums are no exceptions. This time, however, they take a different approach. Gone are the days of their lengthy keyboard parts; except for one track on the album, there is no build-up here. Some songs feature a 20-second synth intro, but after that at the latest all hell breaks loose with full force. All the song's elements are thrown at you at once, leaving you helplessly lost in all that musical mayhem, so unless you're familiar with this type of music, it might take several listens to get into the album.
So much for atmosphere and the general impression, next is the music. Be careful if you like their previous releases because Limbonic Art have become much harder and more noisy than ever before. While the keyboards had always been the dominant element on their first three albums, there is now some kind of an equal balance between keyboards and guitars. Although the guitars tend to be given a little preference, often giving the main melody while the keys just play along to make the music more "complete", neither of the two ever drowns the other; usually it's the combination of both that carries the musical themes and creates the symphonic, atmospheric, full sound. The drumming, done by a computer, fits in extremely well and provides some great blast parts, too, which will just make you hammer against your desk or some other piece of furniture (or bang your head, if that's more your thing). In any case, don't expect the melodies on here to be clear and in the centre of the songs, but be prepared for a lot of noise on different layers. It's hard to explain, but Limbonic Art's music is not based on individual instruments and their performances, but all the elements together create something like a "wall of sound" that just breaks down over you.
On a throne atop all this sits Daemon, the vocalist. The interesting thing about his vocals is that, no matter how fast the music gets, they almost always stay rather slow and stately, with long vowels. Electronic reinforcements make them sound even more majestic and powerful, plus they are louder in the mix – compared to the instruments – than in most other bands. Although the lyrics seem to be an important part in the Limbonic Art concept and the vocals are there to carry a message, they are used as kind of an instrument as well, being the final element to complete Limbonic Art's unique sound.
To summarise my review in one sentence, Morfeus and Daemon have produced an excellent album with a great dark atmosphere, merging all the different elements together to form a very interesting and complex mixture of sounds. "Ad Noctum – Dynasty of Death" is maybe not an album you'll immediately fall in love with, but it's worth taking your time to get into it and realise its brilliance.
Favourite tracks: The Dark Paranormal Calling, Dynasty of Death, The Supreme Sacrifice