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Beautiful and magnificent black metal art - 95%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 24th, 2007

Here is a very beautiful and magnificent work of black metal art that is inspired by the mysterious forests and snowy landscapes of western Romania where this trio is based. The work is divided into four movements which may reflect the four seasons of the year, each movement being about 12 - 15 minutes in length. There are many layers to this complex music which necessitates several hearings for listeners to grasp and appreciate what the musicians are communicating. The album can be very chaotic but this is to be expected given the concept behind it: Nature can be a benevolent giver and the source of life but Nature is also the destroyer of life and demands a heavy price to be paid by humans for its gifts, and you never know which side of Nature will be apparent from one day or one season to the next.

The black metal ranges from fast to middle-paced and there are many off-key melodies and atonal features. Bursts of guitar, distorted vocals and very technical drumming that changes speed a lot alternate with acoustic folk melodies, clean and almost operatic singing, synthesised orchestral music elements and keyboard passages that create cold dark atmospheres. The musicians often combine the most dissonant musical elements so you may be hearing trilling acoustic Latin-styled guitar and a dark cloudy keyboard passage at the same time, or the black metal music itself may be characterised by musical modes that would be more at home in traditional Balkan folk music styles. So there are a great many contrasts at work here and it might be appropriate to describe the album as a tapestry that reveals a multitude of twists and turns as it unravels to pour out its treasures. There is a full-bodied epic feel and you can't help but think that the trio is channelling the sounds and voices of a mystical other-world inhabited by strange beings of Transylvania and the Banat area. (I'm not talking vampires here!)

The album becomes more mystical and atmospheric, more moody and strange as it progesses. Perhaps the best part of the album is the fourth track which although is mostly mysterious and haunting rumbling ambience with a low drone, metallic shimmer and strange creatures howling in the background, also features a long passage with fast solid BM guitar and drums, and very high-pitched theremin-like keyboard melodies that add a demented psychedelic twist to the music. This could well be the climax of the entire album as the music then tends to fade out slowly after this passage.

Probably the main downer for many people is that there is no printed English translation of the dense Romanian lyrics which would enable listeners to get a handle on the album's concept and understand why the music does what it does. You have to hear this album in its entirety, hearing parts of it will convey only a small part of its majesty. The musicians have poured their hearts and souls into creating this opus and you can feel the passion coming out of the album when you hear it all. The black metal element seems to have imposed a kind of restraint or discipline on the music so that it never becomes over-melodramatic and sentimental. Possibly there is too much atmosphere on the fourth movement compared to the earlier three movements which can detract a bit from the album's overall unity and the second and third movements probably should have had a bit more ambience to help properly reflect the transition from spring to summer and so on; this though is a minor criticism and maybe not many people will notice the difference that much.

Perhaps an enterprising label like Candlelight Records or Supernal Records may re-release this album eventually with English language lyrics alongside the Romanian lyrics though I don't find it a bother that I can't follow the native Romanian as the singing is not very upfront and becomes another element in the music.