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Reaching out to greatness. - 95%

DSOfan97, August 27th, 2015

Ayloss found a way to surprise us again. This album, which is Spectral Lore's fourth full-length (don't get tricked by the title) is one of the most refreshing albums that I came across last year. Its progressive intentions do not spoil the black metal element and yet, the black metal element is not entirely in control. Without a doubt, I can say that this album stood out mostly because of the central idea behind it, which of course affected even its slightest detail. What is it? Replacing the always present negativity, with a more optimistic approach towards the genre. Instead of being misanthropic, III is a journey that explores man's destiny and hails the human significance.

One of the album's admirable feats is its length. Sure, this isn't as long as any of Midnight Odyssey's full-lengths, but that only works for the best. You won't feel lost amidst the notes and ideas when listening to III, in the contrary, the album sinks in immediately and while one might feel a bit boggled or numbed after the first listen, it won't be long before a second listen becomes a necessity. And while its length might scare some listeners, III is so full of quality, that you will find it hard to tell how time came to pass that quickly.

Drawing influence from many different genres (black metal, folk, bluegrass, doom to name a few) III succeeds in merging all the elements into one great album. Ayloss spent six years to make this album trying to make it perfect and he came pretty damn close to achieving it. Some of the changes he did can be noticed, such as the differing production qualities from track to track or even his capability in execution. The guitars which have the central role (more than the vocals) always manage to draw the attention to their melodies. Also, the harmonies between the stacked guitar recordings are remarkable and there is always an apex, a climax in every song that provides the release of all the tension (and believe me there's a lot of tension) and leaves you with a gaping jaw and occasionally a teary eye, or something. The bass lines are not always awe-inspiring, but they are well written, balanced, heavy and capable of achieving some of the greatness of the 70's. The drums, probably programmed, tend to stick to the basics, with some exceptions. Blast beats are extensively used, however there are some breaks where the drumming calms down a little bit. The use of keyboards and pianos, graces the album's atmosphere with some elegant touches here and there, mostly in the exclusively acoustic fourth track. Ayloss' vocals are buried into the mix unfortunately but the lyrics are great. You can read them even without simultaneously listening to the album, and they'll still be an enjoyable reading. Revolving around subjects such as will, growth, power, significance and destiny, they're not naive at the slightest and they certainly raise the album's value in my eyes.

Spectral Lore is a project to admire, follow and spend time listening to it. Ayloss has the knowledge and persistence to make every one of his efforts special and every album a real treat for the listener. III is no exception. What am I saying? III is his best work yet, the only album that I appreciated almost as much as Memoria Vetusta III in 2014 and with such songs, how could it not be? I haven't heard so much musical diversity in one album, in quite some time. This album is absolutely essential, and if my words sound exaggerating, listen for yourselves.

Favorite tracks: "The Cold March Towards Eternal Brightness", "The Spiral Fountain", "A Rider Through the Lands of an Infinite Dreamscape".