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Pleasantly hypnotizing, but unfulfilling - 65%

Cynical, December 15th, 2004

Yep, here it is… the album that if you believed the reviews is better than most Burzum. It’s not. It’s somewhat better than average black metal that has a cool guitar tone.

What sounds like two layers of guitars drones in ambient, hypnotizing waves of sound in a technique similar to Burzum’s “Filosofem” or Mutiilation’s “Remains of a Dead, Ruined, Cursed Soul”, with one that sounds like a bass (although I think that it’s just another layer of “dieselharp”) playing a basic droning rhythm riff and the other playing a slightly more complex melody part on top that’s based on the same rhythm. A drum machine plays a mid-paced, not dominating basic beat that anchors the whole song in a steady, unchanging, rhythm giving the proceedings a hypnotic nature. Vocals are an unintelligible, distorted whisper at about the same volume as the guitars, acting simply as an added ambient noise. While this sounds like the formula for success, it doesn’t quite go off as it could.

I have to give a positive word to the production here; the band really knows how to sound good. It’s got what is likely the best black metal guitar tone I’ve ever heard- not to “in your face” for something that tries to be hypnotizing but not feral; not clean enough to sound synthetic; and with a lot of reverb which really creates a lulling ambience, not unlike the sound of ocean waves. Drums, vocals, and the other layer of guitar that acts as bass are perfectly clear and audible. The production on this album alone is enough to make it seem stellar on a first listen; too bad that it doesn’t hold up on repeated listens.

The first major problem is with song structuring- every song on here, despite being instrumental, has verse-chorus structuring! Every single song does the same thing- intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, “middle- eight” (usually acoustic), verse, sometimes chorus, contemplative outro. This could have been acceptable had it been one song; maybe two; but, after the first two songs on the album, you’ll be able to exactly predict the next movement of every song. The simplicity and predictability doesn’t exactly endear this album.

The other major problem is that, while pleasantly hypnotizing, the whole thing has no spirit. Everything about the album, while very pleasing on a base level, seems listless and “grey”- it’s almost like the band was trying to capture the ambience of being bored and stuck inside your home on a rainy day where there’s no actual big storm. This is the biggest flaw of the album, and means that it won’t spend much time in your stereo after the novelty of having a new album wears off.