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Left shoulder: "Hey! Let's review an album that defies categorization!"
Right shoulder: "What are you getting us into?!"
Little did I realize that the little devil always ends up beating that wussy angel into a pulp...every time. So here I am meticulously picking apart a sonic film-noir, a poetically-licenced, abstract couldron of beauty swirled with blood. This is the warm and chilling embrace of an album that only black metal sweethearts could give us, once outside the man's respective genre, and within the darkened heart of a demented and somber madame of the macabre.
Lovers Ihsahn and Ihriel Tveitan give us more than a peek into their bizarre world of still waters and turbulent skies. This album is more frightening than a Severe Torture song as remixed by King Diamond while watching a David Lynch movie. Yet, on the other hand, something serenely sentimental and beautiful gently brushes the abrasive pangs and edges of the framework here. What we have in our midst is a masterpiece of expression. There is absolutely no rating system that could possibly do something this vast and surreal justice. But, since protocol and necessity call for it; I shall go with the implicating 99%, for good measure. It's respect for true art that makes me do this. I could also understand certain beholders of this grotesquery to give it a 20% out of sheer introspection. It is quite shocking, afterall.
"Black Star" would probably be the best choice as an example of what lies within- yet that choice is far from encompassing. There is just too much variation loosely stretched across this landscape to wrap it up in one track. For such a seemingly suffocating exercise in tension, there is more room to breathe than one would guess. Those expecting Emperor-isms on "In Reverie" will be sorely discouraged, but will find tiny dashes here and there. Fanatical sailors-in-the-mist that is black metal's relatives (ambient recordings, industrial/gothic remixes, thrash/punk side-projects, etc.) might know a bit about Ihriel's old Aghast days; and will find a bit of that besprinkled on the layers of this funeral cake.
This is not an album for someone with a short attention span, however, the schizophrenic nature of this release is far from lackadaisical. This is a catalyst for times of lonesome reflection.