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Limbonic Art has always been known for producing competent symphonic black metal by the inseparable duo consisting of Daemon and Morfeus. So what happens when one of them leaves all of a sudden? You get something that sounds like Phantasmagoria, an album with a few decent ideas but ultimately missing many things. Daemon sounds a bit rusty in his skills and it shows a bit here.
It comes as no surprise that Limbonic Art, or at least Daemon, would converge the music to something like Phantasmagoria. This started with Ultimate Death Worship and continued on to Legacy of Evil, ultimately reaching to what we have today. The band had done away with their symphonic style and converged to raw, abrasive, space themed black metal with occasional keyboards making a faint appearance in the background. This style of change has never been a problem for me because the last few Limbonic Art albums are still great to listen to, but Phantasmagoria has shown various signs of deterioration.
My main gripe about this album is the overall sound. I can't exactly hit the nail on the head, but the guitars really try to overpower everything else. Don't get me wrong, it's bad when guitars are drowned out by other elements, but here they sound way too invasive. It's like standing close to a ringing fire alarm - so abrasive. It just doesn't sound too good. Also, Daemon sounds incredibly tired in his vocals. Vocal abilities, in my opinion, were never a strong part of Limbonic Art, but here they are as stale as ever. Most times, Daemon is simply shouting while trying to screach his voice. He does a much better job with roaring shrieks. This combination creates almost no atmosphere within the music and easily becomes forgettable, if not tiresome.
There are some good ideas, though, namely the riffs. I know they don't sound good, but if produced with better quality and songwriting, they would be an even bigger asset. They are indeed memorable on tracks like Astral Projection. Drumming for the most part is still solid. Chances are Daemon used a drum machine, but it's the ideas that count and here they really fit despite the awkward production.
Other than that, listening to this album just isn't as satisfying as other Limbonic Art releases. Some of the songs drag on way too long and there isn't much variety between tracks. There are some nice surprises in between, like the ending of Crypt of Bereavement, but there ultimately aren't that many. What I think Phantasmagoria suffers the most from is a bit of genre confusion. It could be a great trash album if it clean a few things up in terms of songwriting, but it could also be a fantastic black metal album if it fixed production issues. Instead it's a mediocre bridge between a couple of different genres while arbitrarily throwing in a few minute symphonic elements.
Phantasmagoria isn't terrible - it just isn't that great, but you're better off giving other Limbonic Art albums a shot . They are far more interesting...even Dimension F3H would be a far better alternative for the Limbonic Art fans. I'll accept this album as a flop and hope that Daemon salvages the good elements from here to improve a future album.