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Crush those who defy. - 75%

Diamhea, November 1st, 2016

As a collection of genre stereotypes, Russia's Arcanorum Astrum flies stealthily under the radar, sliding into a visually aesthetic comfort zone closer to Crionics, Behemoth and Lyfthrasyr. Eastern European black metal isn't known for such excess, but Прозрение manages to succeed where many, many others have failed. I will give fair warning that my digital version of the album has transliterated song titles that don't seem to sync up to the tracks listed here, so I can't necessarily comment on which are the most killer of cuts. Thankfully, consistency is one of Arcanorum Astrum's stronger suits, fervently occupying the black/death genre crossroads and injecting a morass of orchestral bombast and other symphonic trinkets of terror.

Прозрение lands like a ten-ton brick, and I mean that in an endearing sense. Guitars dominate the lower-register, cranking out chugging, roiling grooves of high order and are imbued with production that makes a conscious effort to maintain their status as a prime constituent of the music, no matter how overblown the remainder may become. The cavernous emissions of the powerfully-produced drums make the entire album feel like a bigger budget effort from an established act, not a release that was forgotten as soon as it hit vendors. Harried tempos aren't necessarily omnipresent, but there are a fair bit of drawn out blasting sections, locked in with a muscular tremolo and the ever-dominant keyboards. I wouldn't say that all songs master the formula, but Arcanorum Astrum feel like there is some purpose to their many changes in tempo and cadence, as opposed to simply stacking riffs upon riffs, ending the song in an arbitrary manner when the length requirement is met. The Russian language is also very well suited to these rasping, sepulchral black metal vocals, which are stacked in a Nergal-esque manner with death grunts, adding some more legitimacy.

Brutalizing discordance isn't necessarily the name of the game with Прозрение, but songs are full of memorable and creative symphonic ensconcing, from seriously downplayed grand piano lines that carve unfettered melancholy into the rabid remainder, to bleating brass sections and other more traditional backing pads. Leads shine brilliantly, imparting a nice contrast to the dissonance that envelops the remainder - however they are not used as much as I would have liked. Some unusual electronic effects are utilized as well, but these generally serve as bizarre and off-putting.

At the end of the day, Прозрение is a more than passable stab at modern symphonic black metal in the Dimmu Borgir vein. Although I get a less garish vibe from these Russians, and feel that the riffs are more pronounced in both composition and production. In many ways, this reminds me of Old Man's Child, which means that it should appeal to most readers. There is boundless capability in this band, even if they aren't the most innovative or ambitious act out there. Check this one out if you can find it. Not amazing, but certainly competent.