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The cosmos haven't awoken yet - 75%

slayrrr666, August 9th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Independent (Digipak)

From the inception in 2014, French one-man symphonic black metal act Onirism has utilized founder Antoine Guibert’s penchant for writing about lucid dreams on epic symphonic black metal music with many atmospheres throughout the music. Now, he presents his epic full-length release independently January 2, 2016 with nearly eighty minutes of symphonic madness.

Regardless of anything else, what’s most apparent on this album is it’s epic scope and ideals here which run the gamut from extreme symphonics to their penchant for atmospheric rhythms and patterns. The symphonics come from the expected sources here with plenty of over-the-top majestic keyboards running rampant across the release not only supplying plenty of dynamic and charging tempos that are given plenty of room to incorporate the utterly blistering riff-work here raging along in perfect time here with these savage rhythms cutting along throughout the whole of the album. This is a truly fast and up-tempo effort with plenty of really impressive works here when he gets up to speed and can work his faster rhythms here to rumble alongside the keyboard works, and with the drumming blistering away with their hard-hitting patterns featuring plenty of dynamic tempo changes that are entirely possible within the epic song-structures on display. Still, even with all that fast and hard-hitting music what really undermines this one is the epic-ness and generally overlong arrangements that are oftentimes filled with excessive elements from the folk interludes to majestic sprawling sections that are just so lifeless and draining that it sometimes takes the track awhile to get back into the proper swing of things. That in itself is aided along by the fact that the album’s simply way too long, especially for a band’s debut release as the overwhelming amount of material here becomes a struggle to listen to as time goes on and really struggles with retaining its attention in the second half as the length of the material but also the girth works against it.

Though not nearly as troubled as it makes itself out to be here with it’s rather overlong presentation and just generally being way too bloated for it’s own good, there’s still more than enough at work here to make this a stylish and somewhat impressive effort that should mightily appeal to fans of all styles of symphonic black metal who can look past the flaws here.

Exploding light from new dimensions. - 60%

Diamhea, March 10th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Independent (Digipak)

A collective, malformed heap of stereotypes. How many times has that exact crossroads of incompetence perfectly described modern black metal? The field is beyond overstuffed with nth-generation lampooning that blindly adheres to some abstract set of ideals romanticized to become far more than the (then) commendable genre-breaching efforts that modern black metal kneels before. This lowest common denominator set of tropes is about as endearing as those "Most ridiculous black metal pics ever" lists on sites like Cracked and Listverse. Enough is enough, and symphonic black metal leads this charge of self parody.

This brings us to France's Onirism, a solo project helmed by one Antoine Guibert. Immediately off the bat, the scope of the band is impressive given the truncated resources, and Guibert's sepulchral, decrepit drawl is plastered all over this thing; that being a hoarse pseudo-croak that sounds unnecessarily breathy and without much projection. It isn't necessarily in that embarrassing "whispering so my mom won't hear me recording in my room" style, sometimes erroneously called a black growl. Vocal shortcomings aside, Cosmic Dream is for the most part standard post-second wave symphonic black metal, with baroque melodic inclinations alongside sweeping dark classical characteristics. At times redolent of Limbonic Art's idiosyncratic In Abhorrence Dementia, Onirism evokes mental images of cosmic environs not unlike the cover art along with its striking colour palette. Riffs are largely a tremolo-driven affair as par for the style's course. The problem here is that the production values' excessively reedy and thin temperament seriously guts the riffs' lasting power. At times, this reminds me of Obsidian Gate's Colossal Christhunt or Limbonic Art's debut Moon in the Scorpio, while largely bereft of those albums' positive facets, mind you.

The streaming, focused clamour that is exhibited when the band locks into a rollicking upper mid-paced jaunt like on "Weavers of Time" and the album highlight "The Curse of Ahriman" has potential, even with the deficiencies of the programmed kit taken into account. The drums just sort of pitter-patter away without much of an attempt to embrace their artificial nature, which was done to great effect on Ad Noctum: Dynasty of Death back in the '90s. Guibert thankfully avoids lingering on the monochromatic morass of misguided misanthropia along with other stereotypical black metal aesthetics. Take the closing title track for instance, which rides an orchestral precursor into some decidedly un-black metal-esque leads which sound more like Suidakra or some sort of epic power metal. Incessant blasting soon takes over, but that is just one of many examples of Cosmic Dream exhibiting greater potential.

Sadly, these examples are at best equal with the more typical, overcast melodic black metal swaddling that most listeners came here for in order to whet their flawed palette for generic symphonic black metal. Even at that, the band seems incapable of entirely dropping the ball, as the downtrodden, cracked-concrete machinations of tunes like the opener "Purple Sky" exhibit class along with a well-honed ear for the symphonic side of the affair. This still does little to exonerate Onirism from the overall dearth of quality riffage. The cinematic scope of the album works well in isolation like during sections of the monolithic "Beginning of a New Era," but there simply aren't enough powerful guitar lines to consider the record anything close to riveting. That said, and in conclusion, there is some quality material here, certainly more than one would expect from a single mind. So from that point of view, Cosmic Dream is functional, if woefully flawed elsewhere. Suckers for symphonic black metal might get a few spins out of this. Denser production values would do Onirism a world of good, along with more variety in the riffs proper. A commendable attempt, certainly enough to warrant another try. Better luck next time, Antoine.


Promo courtesy of The Metal Observer