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When metal transcends itself, and turns into art. - 100%

BabySchraiberJesus, August 30th, 2003

In my not-so-humble opinion, this is the finest album ever recorded. I've never heard anything even comparable to the power, the beauty, the sheer awe of this album. The first time I listened to it, I was nearly in tears. How these guys can make such amazing sounds from such simple ideas is beyond me.

The music, in a lot of ways, is influenced by black metal, and european metal in general. I was quite surprised when I found out these guys are actually from Portland, Oregon. The vocals are pretty much equally black metal-esque and clean, though I think there's a bit more clean vocals. Actually, if there's anything wrong with this album it's Haughm's clean voice, which is... slightly odd. It takes some getting used to, definitely. However, I can' t say I'd like it any other way. It's very powerful. Haughm is also responsible for half of the guitar parts and, oddly, the percussion. I assume it means that he plays the drums, not that they have a drum machine, as the drums sound real enough. The drum lines fit the songs perfectly, even when they go into a bit of a marching band thing.

A lot of the guitar work is 3/4 acoustic strumming, which is very repetitious, minimalistic, and simplistic, and that's what this album is about. Beauty through minimalism. I don't think any of the musicians would win awards for their technical ability, but the soloing on this album is beyond amazing. Simply beautiful. It's not fast, nor does it seem technical, it just really... tugs at your heart strings, so to speak. A lot of the soloing is acoustic, as well. When they decide to turn on the distortion you get some black metal-esque riffing, not in your face, but to add to the atmosphere. Very tasteful.

The album is put together in an interesting way... with the exception of the last two songs, it alternates between instrumentals and normal songs. The instrumentals are very post-rockish, with one part building up for a while, then changing... the last instrumental, The Hawthorn Passage is one of my favorite songs ever, truly powerful, even without lyrics.

On that note, I'm going to conclude with the lyrics. Normally I don't really care about lyrics, but when an album is perfect, it better have perfect lyrics, too, right? The words are well written, and flow together well, especially the first real song, "In The Shadow of Our Pale Companion", a song about Nature being the real God, aparently. Very, very powerful. "Where is the god... has he fallen?"

This is probably not an album you will immediately understand if you don't know what you're looking for. But you must own it. It is incredible, it is beyond metal, it is beyond music.