Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

And the flames shall flow with us... - 85%

Diamhea, August 11th, 2008

Firefrost Arcanum is the black sheep of Vesania's discography. The band's later albums would adopt a more straightforward modus operandi, featuring shorter tracks and less dynamic arrangements. While enterprising, many of the tracks here can be extremely overwhelming, making Firefrost Arcanum a very difficult listen, but not necessarily unrewarding.

Tremolo riffs give way to atmospheric sections and some heavier, chugging passages atypical of the genre. Vesania has an unusual riffing style that includes the use of a lot of open note, staccato-esque breaks syncopated with the drums. This would become more prevalent on later releases, but remains an attribute of their sonic profile that I can't help but notice here. Guitars remain on the heavier side for the genre, and while featuring some impressive dissonant tremolo passages, also have the wherewithal to slow down and gather atmosphere, preventing the whole ordeal from becoming bloated and tedious (which it nearly does at several points). The vocals remind me of Limbonic Art's earlier material, sans the caterwauling present on said band's material. Wróblewski devolves into a croak at times, but his prime approach is inoffensive if anything but original. There are some guttural roars that do break up the monotony of his blackened snarl, so I can't fault him for trying to add variety.

The keyboards are almost universally upfront, similar to Vesania's later material. However, they take on a much more atmospheric role on Firefrost Arcanum, adding an impressive counterpoint to the heavier riffing present on tracks such as "Marduke's Mazemerising". They lend a potent, sinister atmosphere that proves that keyboards do have a worthwhile place in heavier music like this. The drums are perhaps the most technically impressive hallmark of the album. The blasting is impressive in not just speed and technicality, but for how long Dariusz can go with such frenetic vigor. He also spends some time experimenting with unfamiliar patterns, at least lending some originality to the proceedings. I would still say that he has improved since Firefrost Arcanum, making his current tenure in Dimmu Borgir well-earned.

The production has always been a bit uneven to my ears. The guitars tend to dominate the mix, and sound overly bassy and overwhelming. This forces the keyboards into the background more than they should be. The drums are sonically a disaster, the snare sound is a little clunky and the toms almost sound like they are clipping at times. For a debut album, much of this can be forgiven if the material is as compelling as it is here. "Moonthrone. Dawn Broken" is the most effective of the longer cuts, really taking its time to build and release tension several times over during the course of its 9+ minute runtime. Opener "Mystherion. Crystaleyes" is conversely a more accessible example of the style being pioneered here. A style which while highly rewarding, almost requires a certain mood to be fully realized. Vesania truly sever the veil between fantasy and nightmare on Firefrost Arcanum. An ambitious near-classic.

(Revised/Updated 1/3/14)