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Entering the Olympus of Doom - 94%

Vurtox, March 24th, 2009

When I pick out single songs from traditional doom metal bands I most often find myself quite enjoying them but usually they fail to keep me interested over the course of a whole album. Too monotonous and repetitive, symptomatic for the whole sub-genre of doom metal – or should I say: characteristic? You might argue that’s exactly the point of doom but in general I can’t think of stagnation as anything but pretty tiresome.

Admittedly, that opinion is rather stereotyped – and The Prophecy were one of the first bands to make me realize that while not strolling too far from the genre’s roots. A simple innovation: songwriting that breaks the monotony through variation – in order to grab the listener’s attention – and to never let go again.

The cover of ‘Into the Light’ is symbolic for its compositions. Bleak soundscapes create a dark image before the mental eye – a nightly gaze at the deep, wide ocean. Waves surge in an instant of aggression – and calming down again. A ray of light at the distant horizon, a spark of hope – embodied by warm, melodic parts, gently caressing the distressed heart. Moments later, the turbulent sea and its dashing waves make that flicker seem so trivial again.

A recurrent motif – the constant and sophisticated interplay of differing atmospheres. Subtle harmonies accompanied by countless brilliant moments, yet so transient that one’s hardly left with enough time to be adequately awestruck.

Going into detail – the opener ‘Into the Light’ starts painfully slow with deep, devastating growls. Nearly three minutes into the song a cello adds a new layer of sound, the guitar brightens up and Matt’s warm vocals proceed to an intense and captivating melody. Gradually, the tempo begins to increase and haunting melancholy develops into immense aggression.

The variation of vocals and tempi is the primary concept and driving force behind the compositions, whereas tastefully arranged guitar soli contribute in various parts, never feeling out of place but serving to intensify the atmosphere.
‘Echoes’ throws us down into the abyss of depression – gentle lead guitar, calm clean vocals and a cello that permeates deep into the body, unlocking any emotional resistance that might have been left – so that the following crushingly heavy riffs and majestic vocals leave us behind desolate and empty. However, compensation is carried out afterwards by the two furious songs ‘Belief Means Nothing’ and ‘All is Lost’ with up-tempo, relentless drumming, a killer bass line and a great deal of harsh vocals.

The highlight of the CD is the sublime ‘Waters Deep’ – also being the longest track. Fragile acoustic guitars accompany the melody of the first half, continually intensifying with pulsating drumming around the middle, leading to a mournful solo and increasingly lamenting vocals. After a short break the ‘epicness’ reaches new heights (‘to waters deep, there we will drown…’), climaxing in an outburst of aggression with fierce growls and cutting riffs, just to return to a calm acoustic ending – a complementary interplay of opposing moods, absolutely stunning.

The record concludes with the depressive ‘Hope’ (a misleading title), yet another outstanding track with its heavy riffing, elegiac vocals and an ending carried by gut-wrenchingly beautiful cello, an atmosphere dripping of utter melancholy.

The overall sound has matured in comparison to their previous effort ‘Revelations’ – conjuring even bleaker imagery than before by means of sound. Keyboard and violin have been replaced by a cello and – somewhat regrettable – a reduction of the splendid guitar leads in order to create a more coherent and darker impression, now exclusively used to directly serve the compositions.
A compelling album with elaborate arrangements and intelligent lyrics, both exploring the genre’s borders and staying true to its roots. Give them the recognition they deserve.