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This is the second album of the solo project Magnum Itiner Interius, by my fellow “paisano” Daniel Corchado, better known for this main band, death metal greats The Chasm. I didn’t know about this project’s existence until a few weeks ago and it turns out to be quite different from almost everything The Chasm has released so far. Some similarities do exist, as that death metal ensemble are no strangers in using and creating mystical and otherworldly atmospheres in their albums, but this has little to do with death metal. Magnum Itiner Interius, which roughly translates as “Meanwhile, a long march”, is an instrumental metal act, its musical input composed of several elements from different metal genres and beyond. This sophomore album is my first encounter with MII.
Departure at the Betrayal of Life is a mildly cosmopolitan musical journey of more than an hour of duration, somber and melancholic most of the time and I agree with former reviewer in that this isn't exactly doom metal, though some passages from some songs are quite doomy, more in atmosphere than in the riff-work. The guitars are not too heavy, down-tuned or distorted and the production is clear and smooth but probably doom is the most suitable genre to label this. I disagree in labeling this melodic death metal though. The pace of the rhythmic instruments varies, though it rarely becomes fast, remaining in middle to slow tempo mostly. The guitars are the highlight of this album, compelling the listener to dance to its melodic dirges. The synths are omnipresent, producing a myriad of sounds and samples and starring in the shorter tunes, but retreating to the background during the longer compositions.
It seems to me that Corchado experimented in the shorter tracks, and was more conservative in the long ones, which ultimately are much better. For starters, he could have integrated the insipid two-minute intro “Frozen” into the excellent “A Mirage of Your Journey” in a much abridged version, or skip it altogether and open with the second track as it stands. And that goes also for “Pernicious”, “Avoid the Light”, “Ad Honorem Defuncto II” and “Farewell… (to My Father)”, which doesn’t bring much to the table, and ironically, feel overlong. Some ideas from those tracks could have been incorporated to their longer peers, but as stand-alone tunes they feel rather bland. The real treats from this album are the better planned, 5 to 9 minutes compositions, and among those my personal favorites include the already mentioned song No.2, “The Shattered Dream”, “A Wall of Memories”, and “Scorn to the Inevitable Ruin”.
I’m really glad Corchado tried his hand at this type of ambient instru-metal; I think he does it rather well. The title-track’s a bit overlong, those interludes… of course some things he could have done (or not done) better, but as it is, there’s no reason for me not to recommend Magnum Itiner Interius to fans of atmospheric metal. A soundtrack to ghost stories, ill-fated promenades or wintry twilights, Departure at the Betrayal of Life has the potential to draw metalheads searching for a more laid back option to Ahab, as well as modern or old Katatonia enthusiasts. Immersive, depressing and haunting, good stuff.
Originally written for Metal Recusants [metalrecusants.com]
Magnum Itiner Interius' eccentricity comes out in full view on the follow up to 2009's Ad Honorem Defuncto, Departure At The Betrayal Of Life. Daniel Corchado maneuvers through a slough of different styles and textures with ease and tracks such as "A Mirage Of Your Journey","A Wall Of Memories," and "Scorn To The Inevitable Ruin" all float on a tide of image invoking melodiousness and crafted rhythmic interplay. Corchado handles all of Magnum Itiner Interius' duties. At least, all except for vocals for which there are none. Departure At The Betrayal Of Life is three-minutes more than an hours worth of instrumental activity. Brief moments of spoken word appear courageously amidst the recording and do little for the recording other than add texture. The musicianship is excellent, as expected from someone of Corchado's ability and breadth in the underground music field.
The songs on the album are basically broken into two groups. There are the in between ambient songs which usually linger at about two or three minutes long. For me, their purpose is the same as gelato at a fancy restaurant. The second grouping are the main courses, two of which could be separated into a third sub-group defined by electronic elements. The ambient tracks are all bombastically diminutive, inflated only through the use of synthesized weights. In many places their effectiveness as intended separations between the other tracks is dismantled due to the obnoxiousness of the big clamoring Fiji mermaid-percussion during them. In many places the album is weathered and wispy sounding. The intermediary tracks remove from this. Mixing the synthesizers further back would have created the feeling of distance and added to the album's climate instead of sticking out like snow in July.
But the real tracks, the majority of the album, is really great. The melodies and structures are interesting and unpredictable in many places. "A Wall of Memories," cycles through several different vibes, offering a loose feeling of tumbling slowly through Alice in Wonderland scenery. It repeats parts perhaps too much and I might hear some sloppy digital edits but it finishes gently and with class. "The Shattered Dream" encounters similar issues with repetitiveness and isn't as memorable to begin with and especially to end with. Other highlights include "Scorn To The Inevitable Ruin," which is seven minutes of well written mid-paced atmospheric doominess and the title track, "Departure At The Betrayal Of Life," which is nine minutes of similarly mesmerizing downbeat melodies, though it's length is not necessary. "From Nothingness Comes Eternity" is the fullest song on the album. It has multiple sections, an excellent bass bridge sections and retains the thematic emotions which the early parts of the album hinted at. It is markedly varied and subtle in how the components placed far back in the mix unify the rest of the track. A restrained, smooth and careful melodic lead weaves through the majority of the track. Excellent.
"Pitchblack Stream" is the first of the outwardly electronic influenced tracks and does little for me. It's almost five minutes of redundant harping on a simple progression and even when it does break into a more driving rhythm, it just doesn't fit with any of the previous tracks and it's too long to be considered a simple median. "The Spreading Rift" is a more interesting electronic piece utilizing the same aggressive synth as "Pitchblack," though for some reason sounds much more developed. Unlike "Pitchblack," it has a uniquely intelligible mechanical momentum and it's inertia is provided by the persistent and dependable percussive elements. These two tracks are, however, two of the longer tracks which don't sound as if they were written with the intention of possibly having lyrics. Many of the other long tracks have structures with repeating sections, parts that could be choruses and bridge-like constructions which would work well with lyrics.
Across the web I see Corchado's project labelled as doom and ambient doom or some combination there-of but I don't really hear anything outwardly doomy about the sound other than the chosen melancholic melodies and progressions. If anything, this is more like a progressive form of the melodic death metal from Gothenburg and I hear more in common with a band such as Dark Tranquility and maybe even Katatonia than with a doom band that has ambient flourishes. Just because slowness and melancholy are present doesn't immediately necessitate a doom genre tag. Granted, moments of the release invoke feelings of dread and doom, but that's a far cry from being influenced by Sabbath and Pentagram or Candlemass. There's very little connection to that lineage here. This is a little long in my opinion, and could do with some trimming of compositions to be more linear which would work better for instrumental tracks. Overall, this is a fine release and one which Daniel Corchado should be - and I am sure he is - proud of for it's stand-out aspects and originality.
Originally written for Contaminated Tones