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Well-played, well-orchestrated but unoriginal - 73%

erebuszine, May 1st, 2013

The one song that really makes this album for me comes very close to its finish: the ninth, entitled 'A Dream of Scarlet Nights', where all of the elements that Siebenburgen offer you here for your delight and titillation come together in an original way and actually succeed in constructing a memorable song. Now this is directly based on a couple of mysterious guitar melodies in this song unlike any of the other riffs on this album: transcendent riffs, you could say, where the band outdid themselves and wrenched something from inside that normally wouldn't have come to the light. I congratulate them on that. This one song throws just about every single trick they have up their sleeves into the ring and lets you sort it out. I prefer the darker first half of the song, but that's just me... the guitar feedback swelling, oscillating, etc. for a moment at the end is also nice.

For the most part, however, because of the production (clean, sparkling, with just enough power - maybe not enough bass, but that's a matter of taste) and a few other minor matters, these songs tend to blend together very easily in one's mind. Siebenburgen may have planned it this way, I am not sure. Because I don't have the lyrics I can't really tell if the songs are linked by a series of themes. So how do I describe the music? Well, I seem to remember people describing this group as 'vicious' not so long ago - maybe I have them confused with some other musicians - and as this is actually the first Siebenburgen (I just like typing that name) album I've heard, I can't exactly tell if that was true and now isn't or if the reviewers I listened to were completely mistaken. I could never describe this band as vicious, or even 'mildly violent'. For a black metal band (someone should really start questioning these random categorizations) this collective is a rather sedate, relaxed bunch. They focus for the most part on trebly, rapid melodies that never become too complex or rhythmically difficult to follow, punctuated by a capable drummer (who might just be a machine - it gets harder and harder for me to tell the difference) who pounds his snare efficiently and adds the occasional odd fill when the breaks call for it. On top of this there is the usual scarred-throat male vocalist rasping, groaning, and choking in the foreground while over all of this floats a pseudo-angelic female voice twirling and flying in and out of the listening space, either offering harmonies to back up the guitars or a contrasting melody to give the song motifs added depth. After a while, if you are used to this sort of thing (it runs rampant on the Napalm label) her voice will probably get a little tedious... it did for me. The entrance to the third song, 'Storms', is done very well, however, as it reminds me of the choruses in Debussy's 'Nocturnes'. Chilling, in a way.

Did I mention keyboards? Yes, there are keyboards.

If I had to guess I would say this band enjoys listening to old-school metal more than anything else, as this has elements of what is now called 'power metal', and when I say 'old-school', I mean: Iron Maiden. There is a certain trilling vibration in the guitar melodies here that just screams 'Maiden' to me... I could be completely wrong about this, though.

For those of you who are into the 'new wave' of Dimmu-ish black metal bands, i.e. Mactatus, newer Borknagar, etc. then I would definitely recommend this to you as it will no doubt satisfy your hunger. For those of you who are searching for something harder, you might want to listen to it first... this is well-played, well-orchestrated, well-produced, but unfortunately, not all that original.

UA

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