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Deathly Revelations. - 100%

DSOfan97, December 7th, 2017

Rebirth of Nefast's Tabernaculum is too good to be true. That phrase could sum up the entire album, but of course this is supposed to be a review so I'll be more specific. The cliche phrase; As you sow you shall reap also fits the album quite a lot. Tabernaculum (roughly translates to pilgrimage and literally means the sanctuary wherein the ark of the covenant was kept by the Jewish people while the wandered in the desert) has been in the works for almost a decade-nine years to be precise. That should reassure the listener that every tiny detail has been worked and reworked to the point of being no more improvable. Stephen Lockhart (aka Wann) has been clear about his first studio album; he wouldn't compromise until perfection was achieved. And thus it was done; nine years of work passed until perfection was there, in aural form. Then every piece fell into place and the album became even more perfect in the non-aural aspects. The artwork was done by many well known artists and the prestigious Norma Evangelium Diaboli curated the release amazingly.

Getting into the music itself, Wann balances between black metal, doom metal and unearthly ambiance, incorporating some unexpected instruments such as lutes and bouzouki to add texture to the guitars and layering everything multiple times in order to add depth to the recording. The result is mesmerizing. A truly abyssal album of immense proportions that not only illustrates darkness, but comes forth out of it.

This past decade saw Wann moving to Iceland, setting up Emissary Studios and essentially becoming responsible for the entire wave of Icelandic black metal that burst without warning after Svartidau├░i's Flesh Cathedral which was produced by Wann. Around that time Tabernaculum was already conceived as an idea and beginning to take form. Many years have passed since then. Gear has been bought and ultimately left aside. The mixing and mastering process couldn't take longer probably. However the final outcome justifies everything.

I am in general prone to give high scores to albums that I like and just a glimpse at my reviews should serve as proof of that. And that worries me, that should one read this review, he would probably take what I say lightly. This album deserves nothing less than a perfect score. It is a remarkable achievement, completely astonishing and deserving of total respect.

The First Born of the Dead features some female vocals that coalesce with Wann's deep bass voice making the moment a hundred times more reverend. Carrion is a Golden Throne goes into an ambient passage early on resulting in a manic breakdown of howling guitars before the ambiance devours the previous outburst and a slower passage appears again. Dead the Age of Hollow Vessels ends with some shiver-inducing harmonized lead guitars that announce the end of the album as a whole. And apart from the stringed instruments, handled by Wann one should not overlook Bjarni Einarsson's fantastic drumming that truly adds to the harrowing atmosphere and at times shines all on its own.

There is no shortage of guitar flourishes despite the excessive ambiance that enshrouds the work. There is no shortage of anything to be honest. The lyrical content is enigmatic and highly spiritual. The way that every word is uttered justifies its place in the lyrics. There are absolutely no loose ends left with Tabernaculum and don't get me started with the production. Mixing and mastering wise, this is a seminar of exemplary sound engineering. There are six long tracks in here-try and decipher when one ends and the next starts without looking at your media player whatever it is (CD player, pickup or even digital platforms that allow the album to be heard as a whole). You won't be able to get them all. It all works as one lengthy track that sinks in its own atmosphere and then arises again.

The six deathly revelations that Wann offers in Tabernaculum are nothing less than a pilgrimage. True to the album's name he created a monument that works as a reminder of what a single individual can produce given the talent, inspiration, time and resources needed in order to fully realize his vision. This album will become one of the most important parts of this decade's artistic output. A true piece of uncompromising, challenging art, further solidifying Wann's legacy, but this time as a composer rather than producer. And no matter if a second Rebirth of Nefast album ever becomes reality, Tabernaculum should stand tall unaffected by time and environmental changes. No matter what happens to black metal, Tabernaculum is a genre of its own. And it is high art.

Favorite tracks:
1)Listen from start to finish.
2)Sit and contemplate when it's over.
3)Repeat steps 1 & 2.