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Quality Black Metal - 94%

MikeyC, May 31st, 2008

It’s nice to see some black metal coming out of Italy, as I was convinced they were a death metal country (and they’re good at that, too). This is not just black metal – but this is good black metal, created by one woman known as Climaxia. This is probably more depressing than Xasthur-type depressive black metal.

The riffs here are quite sorrowful, for the most part, and contain a lot of melody. All the tracks contain excellent guitar parts, although Meditatio IV would take the proverbial cake in that regard. There are also some clean passages, that definitely convey the gloomy tone this album is portraying (the intro to III and the outro to IV, particularly the latter). Climaxia is one hell of a guitarist, and she knows exactly where to put melody, and when to go to a more brutal stance.

It is unknown who the bass player or the drummer is, but both of these instruments work well in this album. The toms on the drums are quite loud, which can be very off-putting on occasion, but it’s not a huge deal, considering the drums in general are excellent. The blasting works to full effect, too, and it doesn’t dominate over the other instruments. The bass guitar is perhaps even louder than the guitars, which is perfect, because the bassist can really play. They are not just following the guitar, and they handle the low-end to excellent effect. What helps is that even though the bass is loud, it still allows for everything else to be heard perfectly.

The vocalist is also a mystery, but he (or she) can belt out mournful rasps to high shrieks in a heartbeat, and thankfully they fit in with the theme very well. They are not low in the mix, which is pretty much the norm for depressive black metal, but they still portray a sense of sadness and longing, somehow. They are quite captivating.

The production is quite good, which helps in this case. This album would be much less enjoyable with a rawer sound, because it would not deliver the appropriate feelings. Even in their most brutal parts, you can still hear the sadness weaved throughout the music, which is a great indicator that looped ambience doesn’t always mean depressive. Apparently, Climaxia isolated herself for a while, then wrote this album, and if that’s true, then it shows. This album is top-notch black metal, and everyone should check it out. Fans of brutal and melodic black will enjoy this immensely.

Best track: Meditatio IV

Driven To A State Of Climaxia. - 90%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 28th, 2008

Melencolia Estatica came (this may seem like a pun due to the bands leading member being called Climaxia, but it’s not) to my attention through another band, Absentia Lunae. I came across the aforementioned band when I was in search of new black metal music to listen to. I found myself a copy of the debut, ‘In Vmbrarvm Imperii Gloria’ and decided it was worth a shot since I had been discovering a fair few impressive bands through random searches I had been making.

After hearing ‘In Vmbrarvm Imperii Gloria’ in all it’s glory, I made an effort to research the background to the album itself, namely the band members and other projects they had been in. I came across something quite interesting, the bands guitarist, the humorously named Climaxia, had formed her own band, Melencolia Estatica. The simple fact that this was essentially a one woman band meant that I HAD to check it out. It turns out that it was well worth looking in to and once again, through general scouting, I had found myself another band worth my attention.

Italy’s Melencolia Estatica have been given several tags by audiences around the globe. These range from your standard depressive black metal, to another side of the black metal spectrum, the atmospheric side. One could state that both entities entwine because depressive black metal is often very atmospheric and atmospheric black metal is very often depressive. They go hand-in-hand. Both atmospheric and depressive black metal are sub-genres I like, so that cemented my interest in Melencolia Estatica’s debut, which also happens to be self-titled. According to the previous reviewer, Climaxia has stated in an interview that she wanted this album to be used for meditation purposes. Whilst I don’t quite understand that, I do see the appeal of listening to this in an environment that provides it’s listener with darkness and solitude.

From this, one can automatically tell that this is going to be ‘mood music’. Whilst I do believe all music affects our mood, this album in particular is a gem in that sense. The solid song writing allows the emotive side to the record to shine through time and time again as the musicians behind the work press on. Atmospherically, this is where the music begins and ends altering the mood of the audience. It’s very much drive by atmosphere and so it should be. It’s black metal! Unlike raw styles of black metal, this album does tend to lean towards the beautiful side of expressive black metal. The soundscapes are shone on by the bright lights of the guitars, controlled by Climaxia, as she creates seductive riff after seductive riff. Tempting and pleasing us to the state of climax.

Both of those aspects of life can be easily applied to the music as well. There are numerous dark elements about the music. The underlying depressive feeling that courses through the blood of the music. The material on this record reminds me of a journey in solitude, therefore both terms are applicable to the situation. As previously stated, the use of this record for meditation purposes seems really far fetched on the part of the bands leading member, Climaxia. The aggressive nature of black metal rarely allows one to meditate to it. Especially when it comes to Melencolia Estatica’s debut. The double bass is used very often on the part of the drummer, who no one seems to know who that is. It’s used with a vicious amount of bass, which suit’s the undertones of the record. Whilst the main feelings that ebb and flow throughout aren’t necessarily feelings of anger, they do exist on the album through the bass.

This is one of those records that requires more than one listen before reviewing because there are certain hidden features that pass us by first time round. The general focus of the record is fixated on the atmosphere it creates through tremolo picking, double bass drums and strong vocals. One aspect that took me rather by surprise is the bass. It’s a central part to the album. Whilst one may argue that it always is, no matter how much of a background instrument it can tend to become, on this particular album, bass is always accessible. It’s a lot less subdued than I normally expect it to be.

According to Metal Archives, Climaxia only fills in the guitars, so I have no idea who does the other sections. The bass is a powerful instrument on this album. It’s an instrument that depicts a range of emotions and this is a very emotional piece. The vocals are a clear enough example of that. They rife in torment as the bass and double bass compounds them to a life long sentence with misery. In terms of highlights, I’d say Meditatio II and Meditatio IV. Especially the latter. Amazing.