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silly gothic stuff - 64%

Noktorn, March 8th, 2010

Before you ask, yes, the actual music on this disc is just as ridiculous as the cover art and overall aesthetic of the band would have you believe. It's the incredibly silly, cheesy style of eastern European gothic/symphonic black metal where there's purring clean vocals everywhere, completely absurd neoclassical synthlines, and riffs that make you literally cringe away from your speakers. Now, in all honesty, it's executed quite well, but goddamn it's hard to get over the initial absurdity of the sound. I've never been a big fan of goth stuff in general and this waaaay crosses the line that I'm typically comfortable with in my music. That being said, it manages to tread the line of listenability enough that I don't permanently relegate this to the shelf.

The cover art indicates pretty well the sound of the music. Fairly weepy, gothic symphonic black metal that typically lacks blasting in favor of overwrought symphonic compositions over riffs typically used just to hold down root notes. There's admittedly a lot of layers in the music here and it's executed very professionally; the production is clean and full (though it could use a tad more bass) and the instrumental performances are essentially flawless. The lack of a guitar-centric aesthetic is kind of disappointing, apart from sporadic melodic leads, the guitars just kind of sit holding supporting chords, and I think, as usual, a lot more intricacy could be derived from writing, you know, actual riffs instead of just holding down root notes. I suppose the symphonic compositions are lush enough to carry this for the most part, but I don't know, it just feels kind of lazy to me.

What this most resembles is a more competent take on late Cradle Of Filth (in fact, 'English Fire' off 'Nymphetamine', released the same year as this, uses extremely similar riffs and a similar song structure to 'Years Of Dying'; it's probably coincidental), though obviously stripping out even the most bare 'real black metal' from the sound. I suppose calling this black metal is kind of a stretch; it's mostly in the screechy vocals and some of the tremolo riffs- otherwise this is just Tristania kicked up a notch, though thankfully minus female vocals. My biggest complaint about this release is that while it's competent at all, it's just not very interesting; I've heard all these melodies before a thousand times on various gothic and symphonic black releases so this doesn't hold much lasting appeal.

This is obviously music not designed for my tastes but I can respect what they're doing enough to tentatively recommend it to people who like big, overblown gothic black compositions. Hermh is essentially a low-rent Dimmu Borgir or Cradle Of Filth, so fans of those bands would probably enjoy this more than I do. Personally, there's just not enough going on to keep my interest, but at least I can stomach a few tracks at a time without wanting to die.