A Criminally Underrated Gem of the genre – 95%
Retro Death Reviews, March 27th, 2018 |Written based on this version: 1997, CD, Hammerheart Productions
Symphonic black metal is a somewhat underappreciated genre, and this album definitely does justice to that term. I have seen very few people talking about this album, and usually instead bring up their 2006 album “The Nightmarish Compositions”, because of the video game Brutal Legend. This one is constantly overshadowed, sadly, and yet I feel this album is much more superior and creative.
First off, if you haven’t listened to this album, then the band has absolutely no problem with you listening on youtube or even downloading it yourself since the CD has only had one pressing and has been long out of print with no plans to reissue it. So if this review catches your attention, PLEASE do it.
To start off, the album starts with a BEAUTIFUL 2 minute symphonic instrumental that can instantly paint the picture of a castle or fantasy type setting in the middle of a very dark night. Possibly one of my favorite intros ever. So damn dark and mesmerizing. The next track starts off with voice samples of some people yelling until the instruments kick in. The drums are pretty average. You can hear them, but every other instrument is drowned. Though surprisingly, you can hear the bass well enough for it to be present. It’s kind of a shame, but it’s not a big deal to me since the keyboards are downright amazing, some of the best I’ve heard in any album ever. You CAN hear the instruments if you pay attention, but on a first listen you won’t hear them very well most of the time. The vocals are the main reason I took off from my otherwise nearly perfect rating. They are not bad once you get used to them, but for a first time listener or someone who is not into black metal, the vocals will throw the listener off quite a bit, and not in a good way. It literally sounds like Gollum from Lord Of The Rings. It becomes more tolerable once you adjust to it, kind of like an acquired taste, but this is definitely something that can easily put quite a bit of people off. If you are more of an instrumental person, this shouldn’t be much of a problem since the vocals feel like more of an instrument than random screaming, due to them being more in the background than they usually are. Their lyrics on the other hand (if you can understand them) are in fact a redeeming quality. Instead of screaming about satan or anti-religion, this band created the lyrics based on an ancient legend concept created by themselves. What’s there is extremely poetic and really cool to read. As well as that, there are very well placed sound effects like wolves howling, birds chirping, and wind blowing that create the perfect nighttime atmosphere. Mix that, with the heavily symphonic sound, fitting sound effects, and some dark fantasy lyrics, and you’ve got yourself a nice recipe for a great symphonic black metal album.
“Deep, in the midst of a frozen forest,
Winds enhance the night’s exquisite color.
On a wooden throne of thousands of carved nightmares,
Sits an obscure grim figure, yet with a salient paleness”
Close your eyes while listening to this song and hearing these lyrics, and you can picture EXACTLY what he’s talking about. To me, that’s a sign that a band emphasizing on atmosphere has done its job perfectly right.
All in all, this is a very solid album aside from the overpowering (but amazing) keyboards and the harsh Gollum-style vocals. If you can get past those both, this is a perfect album to pull out as you go and lay down by the lake or forest in the middle of the night. You will not regret any of it! Don’t pass this one up if you get the chance to listen, definitely a hidden gem.
Standout Tracks: Album should be listened to from start to finish for the full experience.
If you want to get an idea of how the album sounds: “Crossing The Borders”, “Lure My Spelled Emotions”, “Wading Through Sensuous Journeys” and “Diaries of Primeval Tragedies”.