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Wallachia has been one of those Norwegian black metal bands that somehow gained a cult fan base with their 1999 debut album, “From Behind the Light”. Ten years later, they have released their sophomore album (of course, with a brand new band logo), “Ceremony of Ascension”.
First, the songs here are so diverse since it contains other extreme metal influences. For some, though, this album may be too diverse. Because of that, I wouldn’t want to call this album a “symphonic black metal” album. Instead, I would like to refer to this album as an “extreme metal” album. Another thing here is that we have here a polished production, so it won’t be surprising not to hear much bass. On the other hand, the executions of the instruments were rather well, though only some songs are truly great here.
“Self-Inflicted Stigmata” and “Kamikaze Christians” are both death metal-influenced, which goes with straight-out brutality, although both songs mellowed down halfway through. “Refusalvation” is a melodeath-influenced song with some hints of black metal halfway through. In addition, the song’s atmosphere gives it a different (but awesome) feeling. Meanwhile, “Rival of a Cursed Destiny” is more of a melodic black/death metal song, and the song’s one of the album’s finest. “Sanctimonia XXIII” has this melodic and atmospheric feeling allover it, filled with various symphonies. “Genesis Enigma” is, perhaps, the most atmospheric song in the album, with majority of the performed vocals being clean singing. “Void Expansion” starts slow and symphonic, but it eventually turned into a bona fide symphonic black metal song. Lastly, we have here “The Wreckage of Innocence”, which is the album’s epilogue filled with gloom.
Though the songs (taken individually) may sound good to some metallers, what we should take note here, as I’ve noticed, are the album’s inconsistencies which made the album lacking in direction and musical concept (two things which are important in black metal music). In addition, the album has little, if not none, eeriness in it. Nevertheless, if you could bear with those things, well, you better try this and see for yourself if you will like this or not. Oh well!
Originally made for http://mystifymyserie.blogspot.com
Wallachia is an interesting band on the Norse black metal scene; their style doesn't fit in with either the true old school flavor (Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, etc), nor does it jive with the more brutal, modern end of the spectrum (1349, Emperor, etc.) Instead, they fuse a lot of diverse elements into the sound, from death and thrash to symphonic/progressive metal.
"Self-Inflicted Stigmata" sets the pace, more of a straightforward thrash/death piece with a few discordant, bouncy tones. It's not one of the better songs on the record, as it breaks into some very dull and forgettable riffs. "Refusalvation" begins with a melodic mid pace, almost folkish metal and then the synths erupt along with some black snarls. This song is a little catchier, but then the band heads back into the thrash/death territory with "Kamikaze Christians", mostly pretty bland though it does have an atmospheric, melodic break in the latter half of the track. "Rival of a Cursed Destiny" is a mixture of black and crispy speed/thrash with some of their glorious melodies and slight synth accompaniment. "Sanctimonia XXIII" is one of the better tracks, a symphonic black metal anthem with majestic overtones. "Genesis Enigma" utilizes a clean gothic tone to the vocals. "Void Expansion" was another of my favorites on the album, simmering and glorious.
While Ceremony of Ascension is by no means bad, it often feels a little out of focus. Though clearly a hybrid of styles, the diversity of the band never comes across as a strength. I got the impression that if there were more songs in the vein of "Void Expansion" I would have become more immersed. A few of the tracks feel like filler. Also the guitars feel a little thin and crispy, they could use beefing up to add power to the compositions. Still, there are some intelligent minds at work here, the concepts and lyrics are interesting and the cover art gorgeous. If you're seeking some left of center Norse black metal, I daresay 'progressive' black metal, then you could do worse than give Wallachia a try, otherwise I feel the album is a little inconsistent to give higher recommendations.
For those who have heard past musical fabrications from Wallachia will not be disappointed. Those who have not will be able to jump right in and enjoy the traverse. Here you will find an extremely different, modern, high production, well written CD. In fact, it would not be in the wrong to call this a Magnum Opus.
Every single track is extremely recognizable after only one or two listens, no confusion here. They all stand out like a full moon on the clearest night sky. Full of melody, harmony, blaring vocals, amazing drum work, and some synths, each track has something to prove and they are coming to tear your fucking ears off.
This is an extremely intelligent direction for Wallachia. There are still hints of craftsmanship from “From Behind the Light.” The one major difference is the vocals. For those who remember, vocals on the latter had been either love or hate. With such a distinct growl which sounded like Satan had come forth to the recording studio, it is no longer present on this Opus. Here we have a toned down version, but just as great all the same. Every move on this album seems like a carefully calculated effort, and the vocals fit this album like a muzzle on a rottweiler.
As we dig deeper, next are the drums. Recorded before you is a kit with the power, intensity, coordination, and stamina of a bull charging at the red shirt you forgot to take off at the Running of the Bull. There is so much to love about the drums. With every guitar breakdown, comes an amazing drum beat to back it up and give it some muscle.
Every instrument and vocal is like a piece to a puzzle that fits perfectly. The artwork is beautiful, well drawn, and compliments this album to the fullest. Modern… Wonderful… Brutal… Melodic……. Wallachia.