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Masterful testimony of thunderous negative art - 95%

Stein, April 22nd, 2007

This could have been the all-time greatest masterpiece of New York Death Metal if it featured more original material performed the band, but even in this brief incarnation it surpasses the classic predecessor Ritual Of Infinity. It is evident that not many resources were spent on the recording of this short album, privately print and distributed and still remaining relatively obscure as of today. However, you will not see here the crippling production treatment that drowned the spirit of other old school NYDM records such as Suffocation's Breeding The Spawn or Organic Infest's Penitent, disallowing these and other artists to fully express their artistic potential. Rather, Chronicles Of Shadowed Ones is presented in it's purest essence; muffled and brute, with archaic evanescent tones that never stop reverberating. Crystal-clear polishing would have been an unnatural diversion.

Chronicles Of Shadowed Ones is a concept album based on the modern horror fiction of Brim Lumley, specifically the Necroscope series. Its motifs of paranormal powers and the occult, featuring a mythology of deranged vampire-like creatures out of parallel worlds are disturbingly captured by the abrasive atmosphere of the music.

Stylistically, unlike the album that preceds it, there's less of the crushing, excessively rhythmic precision archetypical of the North American tradition, pioneered and perfected by peers Suffocation; Morpheus Descends lies in a vein closer to Incantation, more interested in subtle, evolving melodic development and alternating tempos between the frenzied very fast and the somber death/doom when it best suits the narrative. In fact, at parts sinister tremolo-picked melodies nearly borders Swedish Death Metal.

The most intimate contact with the listener is through the extremely dexterous and dynamic drumming. In all its conventional North American primacy, the blasting is clear, frenetic at times, and approaches a more ritualistic and warlike rhythm during the epic apex of the album. Closely behind it, and lacking completely this discrete execution stands the true instrumental grandeur of the album, the distant landscapes carved by the strings, echoing on each song distinctive, expansive melodic themes such as the heroic introduction of The Cruciform Hills and the desolate, pessimistic mood of Autumn Bleed. A layer farther in this atmosphere of evilness, rough guttural narratives emanate pernicious messages. Undecipherable are the words of this complex tale of hunting and death.

For the last track Moupho Alde Ferenc Yaborov we are surprised with the recapitulation of the inhuman howls from the begining of the first track and are stripped away from the metal realm, and perhaps even from the musical realm altogether. Cinematic dark ambient brings forth images of barren caverns with unknown dangers, tainted by fiendish creatures hungry for blood. Frightening monstrous growls infest the audible content of this long track alongside what seems to be very distant feral, tribal rhythms. Thus, with an ambiguous but arguably injurious resolution is finished one of the finest works of the Golden Era of Death Metal.