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The album I'm going to review is the new recording effort of an already known character in the Italian underground, Martyr Lucifer, singer of Hortus Animae and Space Mirrors. Martyr's partners in crime for this release are Arke (Opposite Sides) on guitars, Vrolok (Ygg, ex-Nokturnal Mortum) on bass, Grom (Hortus Animae, ex-Ancient) and Adrian Erlandson (Paradise Lost, At The Gates, ex-Cradle Of Filth) on drums, Bless (Hortus Animae) on keyboards, and Leìt on additional vocals and who also takes care of the stunning artwork.
This album differs a lot from the previous productions of Mr. Lucifer, this time dedicated to a dark rock/metal that we could slightly compare to the most recent Tiamat while retaining its own personality. It's well-played and arranged where rock and metal melt through classical and electronic arrangements, classic and modern at the same time, and light and darkness meet even though our Demon of the Earth seems to see this time as a light at the end of the tunnel.
But let's talk about the songs on this album. It starts with an intro, "Janus", a majestic and epic intro that leads us to the title track, "Farewell To Graveland", a piece where we can find very appealing post-punk/darkwave expertly-blended sounds and doom metal. Martyr's voice sounds a bit like The Sisters of Mercy's Andrew Eldritch, but still is very personal. In this track we also find screaming vocals in the chorus that perfectly fit with the clean and female vocals that are also aggressive and melodic.
In the next track, “Turmoil”, we have some sort of Marilyn Manson feel, although the guitar sound remains thick and heavy with guitar and synth solos that give the song a progressive touch.
Once again we get a punky feel from the track “From Under the Ground”, a mix of the most energetic Sisters of Mercy and Tiamat, I would say, that takes us by surprise in the bridge, where we can hear a killer double bass that goes along with clean guitars and piano; really odd, yet so effective.
“Noctua Munda” is a very atmospheric track that has a shade of Alice in Chains in the chorus. A song with a very painful interpretation where the more acoustic and intimate soul of Martyr Lucifer appears for the first time in the album. And again a surprise, an EBM interlude that comes completely unexpected.
But the real stupor comes with the track "Onironauta (The Demon Of The Earth)", a solemn semi-instrumental track where the present Martyr's style meets the past in a succession of drum solos (the performance of Adrian Erlandsson here is literally stellar, and we can even hear blastbeats!), guitar, electronically psychedelic twists, and acoustic inserts. The brilliant finale calms down the storm connecting directly to the next song, the surprising folk interlude "L'albero ed io”, a cover of the Italian songwriter Francesco Guccini and is a really touching song that features a great duet between Martyr and Leìt with delicate string arrangements.
What follows is "The Dustflower" that's perhaps more reminiscent of the aforementioned Tiamat, featuring an interesting and original bass performance by Vrolok (we've never heard him like this in Nokturnal Mortum!). Another very exciting part is "They Said With All Time Will Heal Wounds”, where the emotional tension increases with the orchestral arrangements, getting gradually more and more emphatic until the delicate cello end. A great melodic and melancholic guitar solo by Arke at the end of this track reminds me of certain Paradise Lost atmospheres.
Now a really epic track, "The Horseride", is more than 10 minutes of pure sanguine rock/metal that starts really strong and then develops in a very emotional way through a central reflective part that, through a dramatic crescendo, brings us back to the energy of the beginning, and then surprises us with a delicate ending piano. In this song we have the best performances from Arke (delivering an emotional Pink Floydian solo), Bless on piano, and Grom on drums.
And we have reached the final track, "Waiting For The Dawn", a very delicate and intimate track, semi-acoustic and perfect to be listened to by candlelight during a summer night. The chorus is very effective as crushing guitars accompany the melodious vocals of Martyr and Leìt. A perfect end to a perfect album where in every moment we can find some new detail ready to surprise us, just like the artist who composed it, revealing himself as even more versatile than we might think.
This album represents a perfect summary of all that is gothic, musically and lyrically. Metallic echoes of The Cure, The Sisters of Mercy, Joy Division, and The Cult in a melting pot with Tiamat, Katatonia, Paradise Lost, and My Dying Bride with shades of Pink Floyd appearing every now and then. Guitars and bass have an alternative rock attitude while still maintaining a certain metal touch. Vocals are emotional, varied, and well-arranged while keyboards, synth, and guitar solos are always properly dosed in the right places. Everything seems to be perfect. Moreover, I'd say that I could never expect an album like this considering the entity of the members' other bands, and that means further kudos for this. Congratulations, Mr. Lucifer.
This is the solo project of Hortus Animae, Martyr Lucifer. Featuring a load of seasoned musicians from acts as diverse as Nokturnal Mortum, Paradise Lost and At the Gates, the style here is a dark/gothic style of metal. The music delivered on this release is quite melodic, and the Goth style is very pronounced, I think fans of the likes of The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim are going to find enjoyment here.
As for the more metal inclined (or strictly metal fans) think along the lines of acts such as Nightingale and Woods of Ypres, both of which I'm reminded of in spades across Farewell to Graveland. The music here is quite melodic, with the guitars largely sticking to melodies and arpeggiated chords with less in the way of actual riffs, there is also quite a bit in the way of clean channel which is very well done. The vocals take the low gothic approach common of Goth rock acts, also mixed in is a solid mid-range that makes me think Peaceville three.
The album feels quite long, but the music contained is well done, and hardly offensive. This is certainly going to be of interest to fans of the bands I've mentioned throughout this review, and for what it is this is pretty good. Although nowhere near the quality of acts such as Nightingale or Woods of Ypres, the album does the Goth rock vibes well, and at times there are bursts of metallic quality, which is cool. An interesting release, although boasting virtually nothing in the way of cross-over appeal. This is going to appeal to a select amount of people, however I'm sure those people will get a good level of mileage from Farewell to Graveland.
Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com