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A promising debut from another NC black metal act - 90%

MetalDave42, November 21st, 2009

I'll start off by saying that this album is quite diverse in nearly all the aspects of its components. From the soaring symphonic sections, the relaxed interludes, the harcore-ish moments demonstrated by the vocalist, the groove/tremolo oriented riffs of the guitarists and the catchy melodic solos, a wide-array of music is on display here. The site describes this band as melodic black metal and while that is quite true, there is another aspect of their music that should definitely be noted concerning the description of their style, as it extremely prominent throughout. The aspect I am referencing to is the abundance of stringed and orchestral parts on display during what seems like each and every second of this album. You would be hard-pressed to find many moments where the keyboards or orchestral parts are not being played at some point and time. However, for a die-hard symphonic/melodic black metal fan such as myself, this is by no means a bad thing as they are extremely well composed and genuinely appealing.

From the description in the first paragraph of the review, you may be thinking this band is a fairy-fest with an overall soft metal approach and you would only be...half wrong. Although this band is highly melodic and symphonic, there is blatant aggressiveness as exemplified in certain sections of nearly all the songs save for the interludes and the last track, "Genesis Picture" which is quite a mid-paced and relatively inoffensive song throughout. For a decent comparison, this band can be likened to Dimmu Borgir, but much BETTER in nearly all ways except the clean vocals and drumming. The harsh vocals performed by Daugherty are much stronger and genuinely aggressive unlike the robotic Shagrath. The rhythm guitar is much more memorable as well as the orchestrations. There are even solos on here that are actually worth a damn!

The album begins with the instrumental intro "Decathect". It is a slow, rather plodding orchestral arrangement that remains short and interesting enough that even I didn't skip over it (I'm not the biggest fan of orchestral intros as I find them boring). If you buy this album, the first time you listen to it, I would advise you to not skip the beginning as it flows perfectly and effortlessly into the crushing epic that is "World of Malice". This song begins dark and continues an onslaught throughout save for a couple highly melodic sections. The end of this song seems to be leading into a slower song as the intensity decreases, but no, the punishment commences once again at the beginning of "Rise of Self". The song begins right away with a fast, haunting verse that is extremely catchy. If you can understand what he is saying (the vocalist articulates, so it shouldn't be too hard), you will soon enough be shouting

In this dark time of creation!
Paint these hours in black!

Another infectious vocal passage can be found 2:35 into the song "In Anguished Verse", but they are in abundance all over the album which is another reason this album will get a ton of replay. Overall, the songs that actually have vocals have a similar setup concerning the moods exhibited in each. They generally start with a dark, driving pace and eventually transition into a clean vocal section or a somber orchestral passage and quickly builds up to another barrage of blackened brutality. However, despite the fact that the elements utilized in each song are all quite similar, their structures are quite mature and are not the usual intro/verse/chorus/ etc. The arrangements are quite complex and the symphonic parts are intricately composed as well. They aren't haunting in a fake manner such as Dimmu Borgir or other more popular bands that I won't mention of this style that utilize a symphony. They are genuinely composed and can be appreciated by anyone who has an ear for real stringed arrangements.

For the fact this is already a bit long-winded, I will quickly give an overview of the guitar, vocalist and production. Throughout most of this album, as I have stated, the orchestrations are at the forefront of the mix. Second highest in the mixed would be the vocalist and I would liken him to a more black metal version of Howard Jones from Killswitch Engage. I realize this description may be severely off-putting for some, but it is probably not as horrific as one might think. The music fortunately, is nowhere near the sound of Killswitch though, so don't tear up too much. He approaches the vocals on this album in three different ways.The styles utilized are the occasional hardcore styled shout, fairly unique (yet articulated as I mentioned before) black metal/thrash style vocals, and some decent, but fitting cleans. The guitars unfortunately seem to be a bit low in the mix, but are still easy to decipher note wise. There is an evident crunch to them and the style of riffing played exhibits a very small influence of Gothenburg and fairly technical groove and tremolo, fortunately, with very little chugging. Yes, we actually have some decent riffs here and some excellent solos. Wankfests they are not and they fit perfectly with the dark and majestic atmosphere of the music and are in all honesty, quite technical especially for such young musicians. Production-wise, this is that of a typical, modern day metal album. There is nothing raw about it and my main criticism is that the guitars should be a bit higher because despite the fact that I love me some symphony, the guitars should not be supporting in a metal album as they do a bit here.

I am extremely impressed by this young band and the fact that this is only their debut album causes me to ponder on how they will even top this. This is a damn-near masterpiece in my view and hopefully their next creation will be a bit more riff-oriented and slightly more relaxed concerning the abundance of symphonic sections. If modern-day melodic black metal in the vein of Dimmu Borgir, Vesperian Sorrow, Vesania, etc. is of your ilk, I HIGHLY recommend that you pick this album up.