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Praesepe, that’s a weird name. Not that I know if it actually means anything, I just find it a bit weird for some reason. But then again weirdness is something rather fitting when it comes to Vesperae, ‘cause it’s most certainly a rather strange album. First off; the album consists of nine tracks but only five songs, of which one song is a two-minute instrumental bit. The remaining four tracks are the four songs with vocals, but this time instrumental. Sounds weird, huh? Well it is, but I suppose if someone’s dying to do karaoke versions it’s a great move, but to me it just prolongs the album with 37 highly unnecessary minutes.
Musically this is weird-as-hell. The opening track Fragnance of old (I wonder if it’s not supposed to be ‘fragrance’ and not ‘fragnance’) starts with some cosmic, spacey sounds; nothing unusual there. It continues in a full onslaught of Behemoth reeking drum-work, fast-as-fudge blackened death metal riffing before it moves on into a slightly purer black metal sound consisting of quick tempo changes and melodic guitar leads. But they also have time to serve a strange break of dissonant tinkling and chugging riffing, all while the drumming will whip up both frantic blasting and almost stalemate halts. The vocals on the other hand somehow manage to be both growling, screaming and whispered all at the same time, and while it’s interesting and cool at times it’s just annoying at other times. I seriously don’t know what to make of the first track, simply ‘cause it mixes all these elements together, and often intertwines them in the most unorthodox ways.
As far as A blackened shore goes it opens up somewhat dreamy and ultra-melodic before it moves on with highly annoying semi-clean vocals, jazzy guitars, slow and heavy riffs and jazzy drum-work, and then on to a long guitar solo that really offers nothing of worth to the track. Idiocy has the same kind of vocals, and it sounds a bit like someone who desperately wants to sing, but can’t because if he do the rampant murderer he’s hiding from will find him, and so it ends up whimpered, whispered and yelping singing. For this track there are plenty of traces of progressive metal, prominent in both riffing and drumming as well as song-structure wise.
After the excellent theatrical and instrumental E pluribus unum (which could just as well have been sampled and mixed from a dozen of horror movies) we get the longest track of the bunch; Fires of the calm sun, clocking in at just under 17 minutes. It starts off bombastically and melodic, with a long instrumental section that lets the wicked drumming take the forefront of matters. Suddenly it changes character and turns into some lame-ass rock-thingie with crappy semi-clean vocals and an annoyingly long guitar solo. But then, about ten minutes in, it actually starts to resemble metal.
Vesperae is way too weird for me. I don’t appreciate the strange influences from the softer and ultra-melodic types of metal, just as the vocals are pretty horrible most of the time. The layered growl/scream reminds me of older Semargl, but horribly performed. Musically it can resemble everything from Dissection’s Reinkaos album to the old Norwegian act Covenant, both before and after the name change to The Kovenant. Add to that the fact that it’s all a mishmash of heavy, thrash, death, black, progressive and industrial metal. It is just too widespread, and they fail to bring all these influences together in a way that’s satisfying. There’s no doubt they’ve got some seriously cool ideas, and at times it’s just outrageously strange and sweet, but half of the time it just falls flat on its face.
Originally written for My Last Chapter