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Magister Dixit – Maze of Thousand Ways - 70%

Asag_Asakku, April 19th, 2013

Dawn of the current millennium coincided with the golden age of melodic and symphonic black metal. This particularly fruitful style was imposing itself at this time and some of its main actors managed to attract followers hitherto little fond of extreme metal. This « success » of course inspired a plethora of musicians and promoted group proliferation who stepped into the breach in search of a notoriety that ultimately proved very ephemeral. Some formations disappeared or sank into mediocrity, multiplying tasteless albums. However, melodic black metal genre remains a very rich and varied style, as demonstrated by – among others – Emperor’s marvelous records.

That’s the way Montreal Magister Dixit chosen to follow right from the beginning of their career in the late 1990s. Pioneer of Quebec’s melodic black metal, the band released three albums between 2000 and 2007 and then temporarily ceased its activities (notably to create Scum Sentinel) before returning this year with a fourth full-length called Maze of a Thousand Ways.

The first steps of Sinister World of Dementia leaved me puzzled however. Harpsichord sounds and neo-gothic atmosphere evoked the desperately kitsch Cradle of Filth’s world and made me doubt. Fortunately, the title song restored my confidence, tumbling at full speed and multiplying complex guitar sequences, a constant of the album. Only a dry snare sound is slightly annoying, but this defect is corrected afterward.

Comparisons with Emperor are inevitable. Songs composed by Magister Dixit fully reflect the baroque and grandiose music made by Ihsahn and his cronies, which they brought to perfection during their careers. Alternating furious and melodic passages moments (particularly Ancient Tongue We Speak); the group does not hesitate to draw on electronic register, even pagan, to introduce some songs. Such eclecticism could surprise, but again, it evokes the stylistic innovations of their imperial predecessors.

Dense, complex and sometimes confusing, Maze of a Thousand Ways is an album that bears its name perfectly. Lovers of melodic black metal will be delighted by this record, which constitutes a successful return for this Quebec band that shows remarkable song writing and interpretation qualities.

Originally written for Métal Obscur.