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Graceful gothic death/doom - 75%

autothrall, April 25th, 2010

Poema Arcanus is one of the Chile's better known metal bands, and their 4th album Timeline Symmetry continues the band's legacy in crafting fairly memorable, death/doom. They've returned to their heavy roots, and musically this is a good record. I won't lie, I did occasionally get hung up on Claudio Carrasco García's vocals; when performing their guttural lows, they feel a little too expressive and grumbly; when clean, they recall Aaron Stainthorpe of My Dying Bride, only with García's regional accent. A very gothic intonation. Note that they're not bad vocals, just different, and took time getting used to.

Although there are a lot of bands currently who work in the melodic death/doom feel, Poema's music feels ever so slightly more experimental, and I really enjoy how they mix up their rhythms. Tracks like "Mars Lullaby" and "Alter" are at once groovy, doom and progressive; check out the great use of the piano in the latter. The band can also forge an epic piece like the 8+ minute "By the Cliff" or the 9+ anthem "The Average Man's Odyssey", neither of which will ever lose the listener through their explorations, as the riffs are consistently effective past every twist and turn the songs take. But my favorite tracks on this album have to be the aggressive "Zoom to the Void", with its flowing, expressive bass, and the churning, slower "This Once Long Road", which is like a South American My Dying Bride...only better.

Timeline Symmetry sounds very good and will hopefully, finally get this band on the map. The guitars are deep and possess just the right amount of crunch, the bass is a central instrument to the compositions, and the drums are solid. The vocals were an acquired taste for me, but only on certain tracks. If you like My Dying Bride, Anathema, or the many other death/doom hybrids since, you can do a lot worse than check out this band.

Highlights: Mars Lullaby, By the Cliff, Zoom to the Void, This Once Long Road


Poema Arcanus - Timeline Symmetry - 90%

Eseth, November 20th, 2009

A highly anticipated release for fans of this exceptional band. Everyone familiar with their music had no doubt high expectations for their next studio work. So did Poema Arcanus quenched our thirst for some high quality, epic, unique, emotional music with a touch of romanticism? Before starting the actual review I'd like to confess that the album took some time to grow up on me. Having listened to it for the first time I was rather disappointed but then I took another chance, let myself to go deeper and emote. The album is quite clearly for the individual use. It means you should listen to it alone (preferably with headphones) to feel it and get the most of it. This isn't your common party music.

I'll start with the vocals. Claudio Carrasco García, a singer that really has the gift. His stirring voice (which he uses in at least 3 different modes) and Spanish accent are his main weapons to join in with the music and create a thrilling piece of art. I am wondering if he hadn't ever participated in opera as I'm sure he would fit there fine. There are a few Spanish songs and even if you don't understand the language, it's a real ear candy. Probably the only thing about vocals that slightly annoyed me was the breath at the start of "Zoom to the Void". It feels somewhat offbeat, more common in hardcore or death metal. Anyway, that's just a small aspect and others might like it so for the vocals I'm giving a full mark.

Guitars now. Oh aren't they brilliant! When you listen to them in this release, you know that it's not just made-up music. It is full of feelings, emotions and meaning. Sincere musicianship. In the acoustic moments you hear fingers touching strings, making them speak or cry. And if anyone doesn't know, there's only one guitarist. Most of the bands these days have at least two of those, but this guitar player is holding the melody on it's own and you surely don't feel that there's something amiss. Bass is also a guitar so I'll put my comments about it here as they are but a few. The bass might be louder... It surely was louder in previous releases but that's not much of a problem, I guess that was intended. Bass as an atmospheric tool but not an instrument to be intently listening to.

Drumming is great also. It's pretty more reserved, nearly not a single upstart moment. And that's just perfect. Every instrument having it's place in a single synchronic act. At some places I really waited for a boom, blast-beat avalanche.

You might miss piano parts or even keyboards (they are there but only for atmospheric considerations). The wrong thing you might do when listening to this album is to compare it strictly with previous Poema Arcanus releases. That's what I did a first. But is it new if it's done by the old formula? I feel that the band really made a step, they are evolving, changing. Standing at one place is not good for there is no place for improvement. And Poema Arcanus surely can't be accused of that. "Timeline Symmetry" is a piece of art, I'm not afraid to say that and it also shows that the band is fresh, ready to continue further their artistical path. I'm all but glad for them not having succumbed to lack of worldwide recognition. I highly recommend this album for all open-minded listeners and people with a taste for emotional arts. Enjoy.