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Somehow they got even better - 93%

PorcupineOfDoom, January 16th, 2015

Blackthorn's style seems to have changed a little between Gossamer Witchcraft and Codex Archaos. There's no doubt that they're still more metal-orientated than the stereotypical gothic metal band, but there are a lot of elements that have crept into the production of Codex Archaos that weren't in the band previously.

The main addition to the band is the inclusion of a violinist. Whereas before the band was reliant solely on the keyboards and the guitars, the violin now adds another level to their music and provides a third way for the band to play around with odd melodies. The keyboards continue to tinker away, but the violin really ushers those parts away from the spotlight. In a way that's a little sad because they were very nice on Gossamer Witchcraft, but as a whole that's probably for the best. As for the guitars, they've dropped to being not much more than a structure to hold the band up, and although there are brief moments where they get a solo or a random hook to drive the band forward, for the most part they're just background noise. Forceful and somewhat engaging background noise, but they're not the main focus.

What else has changed? The band seems to have taken on more of a gothic/death approach than the symphonic/gothic they were playing before. This time the vocals are split roughly evenly between the cleans (which aren't just operatic this time) and the death growls that I'd expected to hear the first time I listened to the band. In all honesty I'm glad they did this, because it's more original and the band the suits the unusual blend of elements that they're using here. The album also seems darker and more haunting than the last one, a quality that I tend to enjoy in gothic albums and that's no different here.

And I'm glad to report that this time the drumming isn't as annoying as before. It retains it's technical aspects like it did before and is very entertaining, but this time it doesn't seem to have a weird distortion on it. The band also seems to have noticed their mistake on Gossamer Witchcraft and the drumming is not as forefront as before. Thank goodness for that.

Make no mistake, this is an improvement from a band that had already impressed me immensely. Blackthorn seem very promising and I can't wait to hear what they come up with next if it's as enjoyable as their previous two releases have been.

Dark symphonic metal has many faces - 90%

metaladies, October 22nd, 2012

Blackthorn strikes back with “Codex Archaos”, the solidification of a style that began to be defined in their debut “Araneum”. The harshness of the blastbeats, the tormented keyboards and violins, and the bass lines feed the Blackthorn sound with darkness. On this basis, the guitars provide the power and energy riff by riff. The vocals, sometimes operatic and sometimes guttural, but always devilish, complete an excellent journey through the depths of Hell.

Even being a compact and homogeneous album, its dark symphonic metal has many faces, absorbing Dimmu Borgir’s epic and the gothic, yet tenebrous beauty of early Cradle Of Filth. The technique and accuracy of these five evil goddesses is reflected in songs such as “Vehemence Came as Anodyne”, full of rhythm changes where all their weapons come into play.

“Codex Archaos” is as unpredictable as it is original, either by alternating tempos in compositions without a structural pattern or by details such as the piano of “Arria Marcella”, the violins in “Gorgon the Ascendant”, or the demonic choirs of “Posthumous Ephemera Passion”, featuring great guitar lines that are melodic, yet metal.

The artwork is a plus for the cd, visually reflecting the universe that enters our ears. Finally, I need to emphasize the production, as no instrument is detached more than the other, only pushed to the front without abruptness when its presence is required by the song vibe.

These supplements are necessary to complete a professional and recommended release.