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Same old, same old - 25%

Pratl1971, April 26th, 2010

Another Finnish import of the black/gothic persuasion releases its first full-length effort. In Silentio Noctis, fronted by vocalist Armi Paivinen, is a melding of Nightwish-type vocals with otherwise keyboard-laden black metal. The band’s Through Fragments of Christianity might be one hell of a title to investigate on the dark impressions alone, but it is cautiously misleading.

The music itself has moments of inspired clarity, but for my ears the vocals seriously do not fit the music. The reason Nightwish managed to entrance and resonate as it did and does was simply due to the fact that no other band boasted an operatic female vocalist capable of what Tarja Turunen was doing. The music was also bombastic, grand, lending credulity to her style, which was overpowering when needed and subtle when necessary. While black/dark/gothic metal can, in essence, be loud and overpowering I’ve yet to find it bombastic to the level of a Nightwish or Within Temptation. Paivinen’s voice, while both strong and easily-enjoyable, is an imperfect fit with the steam of the “black” sound here. Where you might expect Jon Nodtveidt you get a serene, enchanting vocal that floats over the trees and through a waterfall - wonderful as they are, the music sometimes leaves the vocals in the settling dust.

For me, the problem here is simply that I am weary of all of the Tarja-clone bands popping up and vying for that gothic/opera sound that has become both tired and rudimentary. This in no way reflects Armi’s vocals or even the band’s music, which is also very good throughout (save for those persistent, $500 ring-a-ding keys that grow tiresome early); it merely seems as if they aren’t the right fit for each other. I understand well the desire to reach this gothic, melodic audience that likes a bit of darkness sprinkled on its cereal, but there is no two-way street there. The operatic vocals are done to death, and since Tarja’s abandonment of Nightwish some years ago the contemporaries are all rushing to the front lines to opt for her place. In that, the music, while enjoyable, becomes stagnant and redundant.

As I said, listening to it a second time through, the vocals seems to be left behind in the music for most of the tracks, save for the very impressive “Funereal Verses,” which finds the flow of the album perfectly and showcases Paivinen’s voice as it should be: draped effortlessly over the music as opposed to it being speedily covered like a painted wagon. What might otherwise be a fine album has simply been an addition to the same female-fronted gothic trend that has seen its better days around the time of Wishmaster or the Mother Earth albums. I’m certainly not saying there isn’t room in this vast wasteland of metal music for newcomers, but the once-endless waters are fast becoming a beach where bodies are everywhere, stealing both sun and sand from the interested few among us.

(Originally written for