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One of the best records of this decade - 100%

H_P Buttcraft, June 8th, 2014

In 2006-2007, Spectral Lore debuted with their albums ‘I’ and ‘II’ and nearly a decade later have come back to form with the moving and striking new album aptly titled ‘III’. Spectral Lore is not a band, so to speak, but really behind the veil of anonymity is the sole Greek musician nicknamed Ayloss who is some sort of Metal version of the “man behind the curtain” from The Wizard of Oz.

And that would also be saying that Ayloss is a wizard himself. Maybe not of the traditional pop culture interpretation of a wizard who can wield magic at will. No, this is a different kind of sorcerer who can illuminate, decimate and recreate entire worlds within the music he makes. Listening to Spectral Lore for the first time in one sitting is really quite a strange and mystical experience.

A song from ‘III’, like “Omphalos”, sweeps in near the end with these incredible, soaring, melodic lead guitars. The infectious rhythms of the other instruments sway underneath and take you to places inside of your imagination lit by the tinges of your emotional experiences of the music as its being played. Then comes in a breathtaking woodwind and string interlude in the middle of “The Veiled Garden” seated side-by-side with a mercilessly raw and twisted Black Metal passage that builds exponentially in fury before expiring on a delicate acoustic guitar passage overdubbing the sounds of a forest at night, crickets, howling wolves and all. And this sixteen minute-long soundscape journey is only the second track on this two disc digipak!

This entire album really is a humungous audible rainbow using sonic colors from the dark murky shades to the bright, shimmering glows. The riffs have distinct and clear characters to them that are as distinguishable as the color yellow to the color purple to the color blue. There is a wealth of variety among the songs and compositional genius of this record to enjoy. The track-lengths may come off as intimidating before your first listen but you will discover that the need for almost all of these songs to need over ten minutes of your time and attention is entirely appropriate. Keep in mind that all this is being made entirely by one single musician.

This album is an odyssey to every extent of the word. If you know anything about ancient world history, odysseys have been long-perfected by Greek artists and poets and Ayloss, in this sense, continues Homer’s regal story-telling tradition with the utmost class and respect on ‘III’.

If Ayloss truly did perform every single instrument on this album, then the man is a genius artist. The musicianship on ‘III’ is world-class with melodies, vocals and rhythms that are haunting and expressive. You can expect to hear flute, cello, fiddle, clarinet, harp and piano on this album interspersed between the long epic song compositions. It’s almost unbelievable that he played it all along with the drums, guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals. That is so amazing!

Despite never hearing any of the band’s previous releases, despite not knowing anything about this band at all, Spectral Lore have made one of the best albums I have listened to in quite a while. This is not a modestly good album, ‘III’ is an album that is easily one of the best releases I have heard so far in the past 4 years. I was completely blown away. If you are into bands like Bel’Akor, Agalloch, Krallice, Opeth or are really into Progressive music (there is so much folk and classical on the record), you will really appreciate this amazing album.

(originally published on Metal-Temple.com - 6-5-2014)