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Maybe the most courageous metal album ever written - 99%

kluseba, March 28th, 2011

This album is probably the most courageous one I have ever heard. One could have expected a diversified album after the death metal meets progressive doom metal album that gave birth to a legacy before, but this record is high above everything one might have thought of. This album presents us a mixture of melodic death metal with many folk influences and some progressive and psychedelic parts. There are a lot of keyboards, many sweet piano melodies, some flutes and even some electronically elements to find. There are smooth and atmospheric growls that have improved since the first album and from time to time clean male vocals but not too many. This album is truly diversified and innovating in every sense of the two words. Let's also underline that some of the songs are really catchy and that wasn't overall the case on the first record. Once again, there is no single weak track to find but the difference to the first album is that there are almost only brilliant tracks on the whole album. I would also like to point out that the album cover is one of the best ones I have ever seen and it fits perfectly to the atmosphere, lyrical concept and musical diversity of the forty minutes of genius. If you happen to like this album, you absolutely must also check out the brilliant "Black winter day" EP that was released shortly afterwards.

If one meets such a high standard it turns out to be difficult to point any song out in particular. Let me tell you that I immediately fell in love with this record. To give you nevertheless a hint of what you might expect; I would like to briefly describe the songs.

“Thousand Lakes” is haunting and eerie piano introduction with some mystic female choirs in the background. After a few seconds, you are already in a very peaceful and dreamy mood. The sound of the bells is absolutely chilling. “Into hiding” is dark metal song with some smooth growls and I wouldn’t even call this style death metal anymore. The music has a strong Arabic touch and the rhythm doesn’t stop to change in the fine details. The clean vocals used for the very first time in a song by the band give an epic touch to the song and collaborate in an amazing way with the growls. The keyboards dominate the ending of this varied track. Other bands would put so many ideas in a song with a length of ten minutes, this song doesn’t even clock at four minutes. “The castaway” has a melodic guitar riff and pumping bass guitar and varies as much musically as the song before. What one recognizes for the first time and what would be repeated in many other tracks of the record is that there are almost no lyrics in the song that concentrates pretty much on the music and its atmosphere. Decent flutes underline this courageous fact as well as a great and short guitar solo with an oriental sound. The last minutes of the song are completely slow and we hear organ and weird guitar sounds in some interludes that heavily remind of the progressive and psychedelic rock of the seventies. I would even say that these elements are close to the “Krautrock” style. “First doom” varies once again in rhythm, structure and melody and has overall a doom metal touch as the title suggests. “Black winter day” is the catchiest track on the record and convinces with an amazing piano melody and a great chorus with energizing clean vocals that shows us a lot of the future development of the band. “Drowned Maid” is much faster and almost reminds of a power metal song. It still has many breaks and slow passages throughout the song but the melodic guitar harmonies are the most stunning thing about this track that fades out with the noises of an ocean. “In the beginning” is much slower once again and has a very majestic atmosphere. Mystic clean vocals in the background and smooth growls harmonize in a perfect way. The keyboard solo sounding like a Hammond organ fits well and adds another degree of diversity to the track. “Forgotten sunrise” starts with a slow drum introduction and gets in with a slow and catchy guitar riff. The song is filled with atmospheric breaks and has strong gothic touch. Moog as well as flutes and keyboards underline a dark folk atmosphere. The short and sweet guitar solo in here is probably the most beautiful one on the record. “To father’s cabin” is dominated by the keyboards that create an atmosphere that would also fit to the score of a horror flick. The vocals are spoken this time and quite eerie and weird, sometimes whispered, sometimes hypnotically like an unholy spell. Sure thing is that I never heard something like this before. The final “Magic and mayhem” isn’t less surprising and plugs in some electronically elements. Gothic Metal goes psychedelic rock and techno but in a very consistent and progressive way. Once again, this is something I have never heard elsewhere and this experiment is probably the most outstanding one and a perfect surprise to close the album. Now, I have told you about every single song on the record which I would not often do, but the reason is simple in here. The tracks are all different from each other and still have a clear guiding line that unites them. By the way, most of them are all masterpieces and the only reason this album gets one point less than the top rating is that nothing is perfect.

In the end, this album feels coherent by its dark and majestic folk atmosphere, everything else is pretty much diversified and surprising. Every song has something unique and great but I must point out “The castaway”, “To father’s cabin” and “Magic and mayhem” that are worth one hundred percent and grow more and more on you each time you listen to them. It hasn’t been a long time ago since I discovered this record but I already consider it as a masterpiece and big classic of the entire metal scene and that’s why I don’t exaggerate when I give such a high rating. This album is visionary, courageous and highly progressive. Anybody that likes atmospheric and varied music in general must check this album out. It should be considered as a milestone no matter if you come from the doom, death, progressive, power or gothic genre. I never heard a band that reached such a high degree of intensity, diversity and professionalism with their second record already, maybe with the exception of “The Vision Bleak” and “The Old Dead Tree” that you might also check out if you like the kind of music you are experiencing here. I can only congratulate and continue to let this record spin once again and in the end over and over again.