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Articulate aggression, elegant enmity - 82%

Homo Sapiens Metallis, July 17th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Agonia Records (Slipcase)

Poland has recently become a hotbed for quality black metal artists, as further evidenced and consolidated by this release. This is not a particular surprise, as it managed to rather quickly adapt to its ferocious tendencies and aggressive articulation even in the heyday of the black metal movement in the mid-90s. However, despite several bands being more enduring than the others, it has not managed to catch the attention and applause from the international community. It is only to be hoped for that several recent releases, particularly this and the new album by Outre, will reverse this rather obnoxious ignorance.

The music is indeed fast, but not intolerably and irksomely so, as the songs will often dissolve either in mid-paced and groovy segues, or some guitar noodling and gurgled or whispered vocals that bear more in common with dark ambient music than black metal proper. However, that does mean this album lacks aggression or enmity, it can certainly channel quite a dense dose of hostility, but this is not its basic premise or preoccupation. On the other hand, the atmosphere it develops is definitely enveloping and unnerving, with several vocal styles (shrieking, shouting, whispers, gurgles etc) energetically employed, and the frequent tempo changes, both in the drumming department and in the guitar gymnastics. That being said, it does seem to pay quite the tribute to the more renowned and classical precedents in the genre, with some of the progressions seeming too derivative and indistinct from the likes of Mayhem, Marduk, Dissection, Sacramentum etc, perhaps only camouflaged by modern production and aesthetics. Despite its tracks revolving around the distinct exploitations of the identical general principle, that is the alternating tempos, several do stand out; the groovy titular track "When Mirrors Shatter" that seems to seamlessly merge the hectic and placid textures, "Dreams Shall Flesh" with its underlying melody laced with the meaty groove midway through the song, as well as the slower and restrained "Of No Light" in which bursts of aggression and chaos take a backseat to atmosphere.

The general result achieved on this album is undeniably good, although it does somewhat reveal too much in terms of its sources of inspiration and foundation, as some of the tracks seem to be somewhat indecisive and inconclusive, and some of the riffing is indeed recycled and rearranged from the previous generations of musicians. On the other hand, there is enough of the solid songwriting, convincing musicianship, energetic delivery and concise ideas behind it to merit at least several spins to digest its, although not original and revolutionary, often chaotic and condensed sound. A worthy entry into the world of black metal. 82/100