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Metempsychosis is an ancient religious belief, common to many peoples and civilizations. Also called « transmigration of souls », it means the movement of a deceased person’s spirit to another life form, according to an infinite variety of worship. And, by the way, it’s also Italian band Nox Illunis’s chosen concept to develop their newest album! So expect everything!
And that’s pretty much what we receive. The band from Treviso offers indeed a mystifying and heterogeneous atmospheric black metal, with many stylistic elements from diverse backgrounds. Divided into six « spheres » and an epilogue, Metempsychosis handpicks influences from psychedelic rock, industrial and classical music through typical melodic black metal songs. Fortunately, this amalgam otherwise indigestible is here done with talent.
But this quartet is proposing us a real maelstrom, which does not hesitate to multiply experiments, unexpected sound samples (Gregorian chant on Del Risveglio Dal Sonno; a long monologue in Italian Del Distruttore; opera Della Caduta) and softer distortion-free passages. Everything seems designed to destabilize the listener, forbidding him to enter into a comfort zone, without ever becoming cacophonous.
It’s impossible not to have a thought for Norway’s legendary band Emperor while listening to this album. Like their illustrious predecessors, Nox Illunis members seem allergic to linearity or ease. No songs are built on a single riff or based on a predictable structure. This exercise gives beautiful artistic results, but could also exhaust some impatient listeners.
Metempsychosis, without being a masterpiece like Ihsahn & friends’ classics, is a great discovery for anyone seeking a musical challenge that requires many careful listenings. Like great wine, this record must be tasted in small doses and will fully reveal itself only after several sips. Does it have an effect on karma? Well, only the reincarnated will know! 7/10
Originally written for Métal Obscur.
“50 minutes of fast blasting black metal with slow melancholic moments and dissonant chords, mixed with occult atmospheres and industrial sounds in a avantgardistic perspective.”
Right out of the gates, “Metempsychosis” already has my attention. The relentless blasting and the beautiful atmosphere have such a shine to it that the only word to come to mind is majestic. It is very driven with atmosphere, and heavily done so. Even though the music is brutal and fast-paced for a good duration, the slow, melodic sections and the “epic” quality really makes the music have a beautiful essence about it.
Nox Illunis paints this very magnificent picture of occult grandeur (especially with the artwork) that has a very “larger than life” feel. There are moments of more technical musicianship but for the most part the music is very somber, yet energetic at the same time. I love the soundscapes they use in between sections and songs, it is very tasteful and not overdone by any means. These guys really have put the right effort into this album to make it worthwhile to the listener.
“Sfera Terza: Della Caduta” in particular is one of the tracks that stands out the most to me because the structure of the song and the flow of the music is so dead on. I really felt as If the music was guiding me on a journey which ultimately leads into the next song, the flow is that good. I love when you listen to an album and it doesn't come off as here is song one, here is song two…but when the record is one solid flow of energy it really makes me privileged to listen. There is no bad song, no filler just quality, epic black metal. What REALLY sold me on the album is the use of Italian lyrics. I personally hate when foreign bands sign in English, because it ruins the whole feel of the band, and makes it seem unnatural to me.
To conclude, when this album is released, it is HIGHLY recommend from us here at Absolute Hell. These guys deserve the support for crafting such a phenomenal piece of music. It will be available from WAR PRODUCTIONS this year 2012 as a jewelcase, digipack, and digital download.
Italy’s Nox Illunis’s sophomore effort, “Metempsychosis”, is a surprisingly professional slab of black metal. Uncompromising black metal is the order of the day. That’s a great thing, uncompromising black metal. I’m no revivalist or retroist, but it seems that lately black metal acts have been forgetting what black metal is. The wonderful thing about “Metempsychosis” is that, while it does incorporate elements and ideas from other sub-genres, it does not meddle in realms of ambiance, it does not get buried under the weight of its own pretentiousness and, although there are melodic moments and keyboards present, does not suffer from the all-out symphonic wankery syndrome.
“Metempsychosis” is a rather challenging and difficult listen: the first two tracks are over nine minutes long and do not let up at all. The rest of the tracks are all around the seven minute mark. Finding your way through the density has its share of rewards, though. For the majority of the release, Nox Illunis play a heavier than average brand of black metal, like a less death metal inspired Belphegor. Musically, Nox Illunis are extremely talented: they have a knack for writing songs with great flow and have the chops to pull it off.
The guitars are blistering fast, utilizing trem picked sections that sound extremely inspired by Ulver’s “Nattens Madrigal” although better produced. While not as trance inducing as that landmark album, the swirling intensity does suck you in and refuses to let go, especially the chaos that is “Sfera Terza: Della Caduta”. The bombardment doesn’t let up until a subtle shift is felt in the delivery. After shifting, the guitars have a tendency to fall straight into a chugging riff with scaled licks and extrapolations thrown in. Melodic moments are strewn throughout the album, with the greatest section during “Sfera Quinta: Della Rinascita” when the trem picking guitar lines fades into a clean, strummed chord and a line of patterned notes. Sections like this are striking, and even more striking when the trem picked riffs blast right where they left off at.
The rhythm section is fairly standard. The bass lines create a heavy backdrop, pretty much mirroring the guitar lines. The drum range from blast beat speeds with precise cymbal and tom work during the faster sections to a speedy run on the double bass with minimal cymbal work during the slower sections. Yes, you read that correctly: the drums are pretty much one speed. The only time the drums slow down is when an industrial tinged interlude or segue starts.
Vocally, Nox Illunis falls in line with just about every other black metal act. The vocals are raw and raspy, with traces of the vocals styling of French black metal stalwarts Antaeus. The vocal lines are mid-range and slightly more drawn out than usual and have a strange tendency of trailing off into a deeper, gravelly sound. Occasional choral lines are mixed in while the screams are still going, making a very interesting mix. The angelic, church choir lines are polar opposite of the regular vocals, and it presents a rather frightening mix. On “Sfera Quinta: Della Rinascita”, the vocalist attempts to conjure “Bergtatt” era Ulver, with a cleaner, choral style. It’s a good effort, but it seems rather out of place to me.
Nox Illunis have not reinvented wheel. They have not created something entirely unique or downright mind blowing. What they have done is released a black metal album, and an enjoyable one at that. There are enough melodic moments to keep from being blasted into a pulp. That being said, this is not a melodic black metal album: this is a black metal album that meddles with slight melodic moments to accentuate the heaviness of the rest of the music. The shear heaviness and aggressiveness of this album will be a huge deterrent to casual black metal listeners, but if you like depth in your black metal, this is for you.