Saturday, October 26, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
The feeling of reward in this album is very strong. One gets the sense of staggering heights, awe-inspiring vistas, and a dark perilous journey. The album is slow-paced, structured like a grand legend, and has the majestic melodies to make it all work. The moments of trudging discomfort act as a powerful contrast to the plateaus of clarity and conquest. In the way it travels from darkest depths to greatest heights, it gives the listener a sense of vertical travel, which matches well the themes suggested by the song names, "The Mountain Stronghold Shrouded In Fog And Shadows," and "Scaling The Crevasses Of Fyrelight Cave."
This is not an easy record. From the get-go we feel the tension of uphill ascent. This album might be following the early Mortiis structure, but its progression is so much more towering. Permeating the album is an impression of dualistic movement, between difficult struggle and breathtaking visions. There is all the mood of ancient magic, of mythic castles and rotting tombs speckling the landscape like gravedust. But then in contrast to that gravedust is the veil of night, and the stardust dotting the firmament overhead. This is where I hear the vocals in track one… a glorious height out of all dungeon synth. Lord Lovidicus experimented with the two thirty-minute track structure of Mortiis, and seems to have immediately grasped it. One feels like they climb to such heights that they gaze on the realm of the gods.
It is strangely thematic. The return to certain melodies after a long while gives it the feeling of a journey. I've wondered for a while whether longer track-lengths might suit the ideas of dungeon synth better than the standard black metal lengths they currently have. I feel like this work validates that.
This album isn't perfect, however. There are moments that do drag a bit, and the repetition can get a bit wearisome when the ideas aren't particularly striking on their own. But for the most part the slow moments function more as a brief rest, for the contemplating mind to reflect on the strange paths it has taken, before rising again to otherworldly panoramas. It will require patience from the listener (even as a ds album), a willingness to allow the music to, at times, fall to the background of one's present thought. It is minimal in this way, somewhat detached, but this detachment just highlights the moments of exhilaration and wonder more strongly. But that said, the album might be a bit on the long side, especially for one that relies on simplicity and repetition so strongly. Also, the sound of the synth tones, while pleasant, are somewhat standard for the genre, and don't stick out much. Everything is pretty clean and well-produced, I'm guessing a product of software. It also seems, to my ears, that the compositions were programmed rather than performed; I'm not sure whether the coldness of this technique adds or detracts from this album, although I personally prefer the more rough and organic performances most of the time.
So, while I feel there are several weaknesses in this record, it still holds up as one of the best dungeon synth albums this year. It went back to the roots, invoking the sprawling structural quality in Mortiis that is often overlooked in recent expressions of the dungeon style, and it did it to great success. It's enthusiastic about the vision, almost a call to arms. The only lyrics to be found on the album, toward the end of the second track, really say it all: "Come forth. Burn your darkest flame. The answer lies ahead."
It's free, and I strongly recommend checking it out. It can be downloaded here [link from the artist's youtube page].
Posted by Andrew Werdna at 5:32 PM