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A Testing Ground, most likely - 80%

michinoku, March 31st, 2004

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this disc. It's essential, to be sure - the even stronger neo-classical/symphonic leanings of Emperor's Prometheus obviously stem from Ihsahn's work on this album, and one gets the impression that both in terms of the synthesizers used and the compositions on that Emperor album, Somnium was a kind of testing ground. I consider it essential at least to Ihsahn's musical progression (as was the particularly odd Amor Fati by his now-main band, Peccatum) - one would imagine what kind of expression would have appeared on Prometheus had Ihsahn not had those two albums as an outlet.

Anyway, those familiar with the extremely bitchin' intro to The Eruption will be on familiar ground, here. Most of the music is synthesized neoclassical composition, with varying effects and an occasional guitar sound thrown in to make things sound even more apocalyptic and weird. For the most part, things are well done on this album, although there are some moments that seem to be thrown in to test the technology rather than to stay in tune with the rest of the compositions. Hopefully Ihsahn will continue to write music for this project, as what's here is promising, and what he's done since show a definite upgrade in his neo-classical compositional skills. What's here is definetly promising, just not characterized by the calculated genius Ihsahn is capable of.