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Stop the madness! - 50%

Exhumonoctus, April 20th, 2009

I've always been wary of a 10 out of 10 review... while I appreciate sometimes you just have to round up, I think it's a sad day for metal when an album nails it that perfectly that all the genre can do is stagnate. To then review an album as 100, where there should be plenty of room for movement even without employing a decimal point just demonstrates a listeners absolute inability to be critical at all and thus renders the review itself redundant.

While this album impresses greatly through the mere musical ability of each of it's members, and is relatively brave in terms of it's employment of styles and textures typically foreign to extreme metal - especially self-described Black Metal, it falls well short of the mark of being perfect - and certainly isn't original.

Upon hearing Tapestry of the Starless Abstract I am immediately reminded of a band that I discovered on mp3.com back in it's glory days who were later signed to Metal Blade. This band was Ethel Duath. The band blended Emperoresque symphonic metal with a neo-classical cacophony that at the time seemed a perfectly appropriate next step for the genre. Since then I have grown to appreciate a more distilled and stripped back approach to Black Metal, and Ethel Duath by their second full length had lost almost all signs of their Black Metal roots.

The second obvious parallel to draw is Opeth, so obvious in fact that I don't see why it would be in dispute and won't comment any further on it.

The songs on this album impress originally but quickly grow old. They are overly long, attempt to layer far too many complex textures that would be hard enough to digest alone, and blend too much stylistically - clearly representing the greatly differing musical preferences of the band. Are they a jazz/fusion crossover or a neo-classical crossover? If they can't agree on one, they could certainly benefit from not attempting to be both in the same passage of music.

The band is also clearly not a Black Metal band. While it's influence is present and the band attempts to capture the feel of the more listener-friendly bands at points, the music lacks any of the requisite darkness or malice that a Black Metal release requires. The demo is far and wide more gothic through it being an attempt at making something beautiful - as opposed to making something sinister. I will however commend the vocal performance on this album. I despise 'black' vocals that sound angry rather than evil, and this band does not fall into this trap. Similarly while the quality of the clean vocals are over-hyped in my opinion, they are certainly well practiced and not overly 'gay' sounding.

Musically this band has all of the ingredients for being a front runner of the gothic or progressive metal scenes, although I think they lack the world view to be seriously considered a black metal band. From my perspective though this demo is more representative of paint still on the pallette, rather than the painting itself. It demonstrates the bands capabilities - but clearly shows the need to further solidify a direction and also understand when a song can benefit from a restraint. Just because your troupe is comprised of virtuoso musicians it is not necessary to have all band members contributing at 11/10 on the wank-o-meter at all times.

All that said, this release gets a generous 50% - This demo will fade into obscurity and will not be touted as anything special in the years to come. This degree of musical capability is not all that rare in this day and age, and these songs do not survive the test of time. The band itself, if they can get over themselves and get on with the business of making good music, has alot more they can offer than this. As such, I am leaving them plenty of room to improve within.