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Powerful, intense, enjoyable ... but ... - 75%

oneyoudontknow, September 14th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2011, 2CD, Aquarius Records (Limited edition)

Ethereal ... or should it be described as a certain type of mysticism with which the release opens? What is it? The rest appears bereft of it, why is it there, then? Should we feel engulfed in a something that is only allowed to persist as an illusion, a short flicker, a vague impression? Or is it something to retain in the back of the head, where it may linger and work as something to put matters into a proper perspective?

In style and concept "Effigies and Epitaphs" follows up from where the previous one had left off or rather how the previous one had been set up. There is either the hurrah blasts of intense atmospheric black metal and then there are calm acoustic counterpoints. Either of these are the same and either of these are different. When it comes to this release, more in terms of clarity and versatility is what has to be acknowledged. Would someone go as far as pointing towards the previous output as (artificially) limited, then this album had be recognized as a clear progression and a clear step towards some kind of established style. In a few words, the music would be more of the same but still somewhat different; or different enough to stand alone and on its own.

What has changed and how does it fare compared with the Dryad release?

Unmistakably, this band has a style and concept they like to express and which they have established to a considerable degree. Each of the tracks breathes this idea, lives it and comes over as being entirely comfortable with it. Be it either the blasts or the calm counterpoints, they are well crafted and appear with the proper production to provide them the sound and intensity they need. Luckily, the muddiness of the previous release has been cast aside for a different level of clarity in the expression. With a larger focus of crafting manifold approaches in terms of arrangements, this output has less of the extreme contrasts with Dryad had to deal with or rather how this had a negative impact on how it is perceived. It is still extreme in its own merit, but should not be limited to this.

Yes, extreme. The wall of guitars, the thundering of the drums, the shrieking of the vocals create together an intense brew of black metal. Add to this a level of consistency with which they present this, then it should be clear on what to expect. The main setting and direction do never experience some kind of diversion. The band focusses on their concept and only enriches it through the recognition that moments of calmness only result in a larger impact on the listener, once the band is ready to throw something at them again. Indeed. Effigies and Epitaphs reeks with contemplative imperatives. It demands the metaphorical imperative, even though it is difficult in actually experiencing the expression. This has remained, despite all this additional level in clarity.

Depressive? Hardly. Dark? Certainly. Sinister. Well, to some degree. It is vicious to some extent. It really pushes you along. It is daring. At times it is really cool.

... but still ...

Could it be the overall limitation in terms of the approach? Could it be the inability of the band to create some kind of proper middle ground between the different types of approaches that they present on this release that is the reason on why it feels slightly off at times? What is it? Somehow this aspect could also have been discovered on the previous release. It fails to stick or rather it fails to really leave an impression, as the band avoided a clear cut separation of facets in the first place. Despite being not muddy in sound or expression, the band is also not delivering it all in such a way as to create a convincing lasting impression. It tugs you along, but in the end you would ask yourself why you had done so and what made you do this at all. This might be the reason you return to this release. To find a definite answer on why to not enjoy it.