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A little bit too much on the soft side - 68%

davkov85, August 20th, 2009

The newest album if Israel' Bishop of Hexen was released two years ago, so this review is not entirely up-to-date. Considering the band’s limited productivity, however, this release does count as brand new.

The latest full-length of the band was released in 1997 (this was their debut). It was a nicely composed but in my view too synth-driven album with poor sound and lacking in aggression and memorable moments. By and large, the same can be said about this successor, unleashed 9 years after. Even if the sound is much cleaner (not groundbreaking, though), progression is limited only to a few aspects.

Bands like this are often compared to the Dimmu / Cradle couple, but the music is even softer. The brutal, if mannered, chords are there even in Cradle and especially in Dimmu. Well, even this little toughness is absent from Bishop of Hexen, it’s more like the late Emperor in its airiest moments. Some grinding parts apart – and in fact the only thing is double bass even at these places, while the guitar goes on playing almost charming melodies, underpinned by grandiose key themes – all tracks are flowing in the same midpace. Although the synth plays an important role in the music, the guitars also deliver lots of melodies, but are forced into the background regarding rhythm. Sometimes it’s like as though they didn’t riff at all, but that could have provided the dark, tough side of the music, which is entirely missing now.

What is praiseworthy, on the other hand – and this is the other thing besides the sound that progressed a lot – is that they are now featuring clean vocals. Even if the music cannot be regarded tough, this singing reminiscent of Garm (the vocalist on the classic Ulver albums) makes it atmospheric at least. The harsh vocals are also correct (totally average), but this, combined with the monumental synth themes, makes the otherwise not very complicated music quite elevated.

I have no problem with the almost 50 minute-long playing time; I think this is about ideal in the genre. Neither can I say that they could have done better by omitting the fillers, since the quality is very balanced overall. Every song could be a bit better, but none of them are very boring. All in all, this is nothing more and nothing less than correct craftsman’s work.

Originally written for

Arcturus + Dimmu Borgir ? Sounds GOOD. - 98%

SepherZ, July 13th, 2006

What we have here is probably the most original BM act going around in Israel. Bishop of Hexen's 2nd album is a great progress from Archives of Enchanted Philosophy. It seems to me the band had matured greatly since writing their debut album. The whole concept behind their music seemed to have changed, from a much darker approach, to a rather theatral one.
Not that The Nightmarish Compositions isn't dark. It's dark, alright, and in a way much more brutal than Archives, but it is also much more melodic, and is overall, simply much more.

The music in this album has alot of layers, and it takes a lot more than one spinning to get the full depth of the music Bishop of Hexen are creating here.
The production of this album is endlessly better than the one in Archives, though that's very easy to tell, as the production over there simply sucked. Drums have a very major role in this album compared to Archives, with some songs (Self Loathing Orchestration, for example) showing impressive drumming abilities. The guitars are much more noticable, and the vocals are much more varied, with alot of theatral-clean-singing (VERY much like La Masquerade Infernale by Arcturus), and great shrieking, not as devilish as in Archives, but just as mean and angry. The keyboard still take a very major role in Bishop of Hexen's music, but unlike their last album, there are many more instruments that combine their excellent music.
It seems that with the change of a vocalist came the required change in this band's approach to music.

The riffs in this album are very symphonic, nearly pagan, and almost everything sounds good. It seems to me that Bishop of Hexen found a good balance between melody and brutalness, keyboard and drums, shrieking and singing. This album, in terms of professionlity, sounds as if it was their 10th release, not their 2nd. The band really seems to know what are they doing. Overall, there isn't really a way to describe their music, as it's pretty unique, but the best way of putting it is trying to imagine Arcturus mixing with Dimmu Borgir's days of glory (Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia, anyone?), with some distant Bal-Sagoth atmosphere at some times.
It amazes me every time how evil this band manages to sound. The whole symphonic atmosphere this album delivers is about evil, I can imagine nothing but horrors when I hear Bishop of Hexen's music, and I think that is exactly what they want you to imagine, given the album's name and the whole approach to music this band members' stick to.

Overall, and once more, this album is VERY worth listening to if you like black metal, symphony, evilness and theater, because those are the four main things you will get to feel when listening to The Nightmarish Compositions. If you do like those, you will enjoy. Trust me you will. For any previous Bishop of Hexen fan, this album will probably provide one of the better listening experiences in 2006, and also for people who previously didn't connect to them, this album offers so much more - you might change your mind!

Standout tracks: Eyes Gaze to a Future Foreseen, Self Loathing Orchestration, The Somber Grounds of Truth,