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Boring, frankly ... a pile of wank - 30%

earthwormgaz, April 7th, 2009

Yes, I'm sure this is very different and unusual, but I don't care. Half of this CD is tuneless noise and pointless racket, and that's the top and bottom of it for me. Yes, there are times when guitar kicks in, but even then, it sounds like they were playing chords with bum notes in there just to add to how different they are.

If I had to sum this CD up in one word, it'd be pretentious.

The artwork is lovely, dark and full of promise. But the only way this record comes close to being a "Near Death Experience" is because you'll be annoyed to death with their inability to write anything remotely like a song, in anything like the Black Metal style.

For me, you could swap most of the CD contents for the sound of your kitchen cupboard falling down the stairs and a radio tuned to nothing at full volume. The sound really isn't that far out.

... and then there's the vocals. No punch, and low in the mix to hide it. Totally without stand out character, and entirely middle of the road when they're even on the record.

Dreadful. I'll be throwing it in the bin after I press the submit button.

Unique and Frightening - 90%

mereimage99, February 21st, 2008

I don't know about you but I find this album to be the most frightening black metal album I've ever heard. Not in the sense that it is horror-movie scary or that there are blood-curdling screams by babies or anything like that. What I mean is the mood of the music and atmosphere created. Let me just put it this way...this album is not really the kind of album that you would throw into your CD player on the drive to work. It requires complete attention and a very dark mood to really absorb it and understand it.

Who would of guessed that a black metal band from Paris, France, of all places, could convince me that black metal still lives. The guitars are the classic black metal style, concussive drums with a hollow sound that makes you feel like you are all alone in a forest that covers the Earth. No place to go, no way out. The vocals are the usual raspy harshness of any black metal album, but they have a feeling of urgency and desperation (it reminds me a lot of Horna's Aania Yossa; talk about desperate, pain-filled vocals). The sampling is done amazingly; adding that final touch of atmosphere that takes you song-by-song through this album without a pause. Unlike a horror movie, filled with breaks to give you a breather from one scary moment to the next and a feeling that everything is going to be alright, Spektr NEVER lets up. You have no chance for "calm;" no chance to breathe easy knowing that this world you are experiencing is not real. Don't get me wrong, there are slower moving parts and tracks that are mostly eerie sampling, but they aren't the kind of slow tracks that relax you.A truly uncomfortable feeling all the way around in this album. It's really quite unsettling.

To give you a song-by-song review would be stupid here. The album, as a whole, must be experienced to really get the mood and atmosphere created by Spektr. If you jump from track to track, it really doesn't make sense, you have to take it all in (it's just like jumping around on a concept album; you have no idea what the fuck is going on in the story). Overall, an amazing album and if the mood hits you just right (it worked for me first spin), you'll be looking over your shoulder and anxiously tossing around in your seat like it's the most uncomfortable thing you've ever sat in.

Good but uneven black metal fusion music - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, February 20th, 2007

Coming out not long after "Et Fugit Intera Fugit Irreparabile Tempus (No Longer Human Senses)", this second full-length album could be mistaken for a sequel: again there is a them of an out-of-body experience and contact with an alien or a higher plane of existence and the devastating psychological consequences that follow. The recording incorporates industrial, electronic and ambient influences and spoken word and found sound samples into the black metal. Steely buzzsaw guitars rain down in heavy torrents of highly corrosive acid noise and the reptilian black metal voices are sharp and very upfront here.

The early tracks on "Near Death Experience" are extremely intense and aggressive and there are few other black metal records I've heard so far that can match this part of the recording for sheer intensity, jaggedness and sonic terror. The outstanding track is "Phantom Reality", coming halfway through the album, for its seesawing chainsaw guitar storms and a later hard-edged, cutting steel quality to the guitar riffs. Strange gibbering voices arise in the background briefly before being cut back down to size. At the end, noisy smoke blasts alternate with twitchy effects and other samples of music into the next track.

Moving along, the album becomes somewhat less BM-oriented and more industrial / ambient with at least one track "Visualization" completely made up of various atmospheric and machine-like samples all connected by a constantly tapping cymbal rhythm. Sometimes the music even feels a bit jazzy. Quiet and sinister moments and deep space appear in "Unio Mystica" which is a pivotal track: you feel that this epic soundtrack to a psychological sci-fi / horror flick has opened up its wounds and secrets to the cold light of day. The black metal returns for the concluding track (hmm, should I say what it is and reveal the ending of the imaginary movie? - oh, why not?), "His Mind Ravaged, His Memory Shattered", which is surprisingly not all that chaotic musically - the chaos is all in the spoken word samples - and ends more with a whimper than a bang.

This is quite a good follow-up to the "Et Fugit ..." album, there's more industrial and ambient music here though maybe the mix with the black metal is uneven and the early aggression and raw quality drop out after the fourth track. However the music isn't much of a significant advance on the previous record which may help to explain why some people think this is just a sequel. The Spektr guys have a lot of work to do to make a third album very different and have its own identity while still remaining true to the Spektr ideal. "Near Death ..." does make some effort in a more ambient and spaced-out direction on "Unio Mystica" but not nearly enough to stand out as an album in its own right. There is still excellent music at least in the first half of the album where the black metal elements make more purely black metal records look virginal snow-white.