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Siebenbürgen’s third effort, Delictum, is an album consisting of 70 minutes of black metal with a heavy gothic influence. This album represents the middle of Siebenbürgen’s career and really marks the transition from their grimmer first two albums to their much more gothic last two works. I actually consider their band name to be a stroke of luck since Siebenbürgen is German for…the Romanian region of Transilvania. I noticed that and well…now I’m reviewing this excellent piece of gothic black metal that I own along with their first, second and last albums.
The gothic themes here are based on two things. First of all, there are a lot of female vocals on Delictum, just as there are a lot of female vocals on all of Siebenbürgen’s albums. The lady performing these vocals here is Kicki Höijertz, who replaced Lovisa Hallstedt, their female vocalist from the first two albums. These vocals are just as well done here as on the other albums, but seem to take more place compared to the rest of the music than on the last albums, marking Siebenbürgen’s evolution from their grim black metal debut to their mostly gothic metal later efforts.
The other aspect that makes this album sound very gothic is the entire lyrical content. Not just here but on the band’s other works as well. The band’s name of Siebenbürgen (Transilvania) is very well chosen for their preferred lyrical theme, which is vampirism.
They tell tales of vampires from a very medieval point of view, with a large religious aspect also taken into consideration. This dark religious part, while evoking images of crypts and somber mausoleums, doesn’t focus on any negative aspects of religion, especially Christianity, and this in turn makes the band lose a lot of credibility as black metal. They seem to use Christianity relatively neutrally despite the focus on death and dark imagery.
Another aspect of this album’s writing being different to the previous two is the replacement of Swedish lyrics for English ones on all but one of the songs. While this makes the lyrics understandable to me except on the 10-minute-long Levande Begravd, the English lyrics make this sound much less like black metal and more like gothic metal.
This pattern of one song in Swedish and the rest in English that’s been started here will continue on the band’s next two full-length releases.
The feel of this album is one of a deathly depression, like you’re listening to some gravedigger’s hymn. It’s the perfect album to listen to while taking part in activities such as exploring dungeons, either in real life or through the screen of one’s computer (Diablo, anyone?).
The production here’s quite good, not deathly raw/grim like some black metal (including their earlier releases) nor extremely polished in a professional studio for months. It’s just there…which actually suits the music very well. The instruments are very well heard individually and work together to create an excellent result from beginning to end. Drumming is somewhat simplistic but nowhere near what many other black metal releases feature. Usage of double-bass is powerful throughout the album, and the work of the three guitarists really suits the atmosphere, even if it’s not overly spectacular.
Highlights on this album wound include the opening “Majesties Infernal” (The self-title track is actually just a one minute intro), the following “Storms” as well as the fifth track, “As Of Sin”. While these are the ones that really stand out, all the tracks are exceptional in their quality, and even the previously mentioned self-titled intro is very well suited to this album. I find this album to represent an excellent part in a very talented band’s career, showing powerful elements both from the beginning and end of their career.
Only slight flaws here would be the slightly indifferent attitude towards Christianity which is somewhat unfit for any black metal band. While not absolutely essential for black metal fans, this is a very enjoyable mix of black and gothic metal in a much more convincing way than a much more well-known British band that tries doing the same thing but just looks immature doing it. Not that that makes them necessarily bad…