(Paragon Records, 2013)
#FOR FANS OF: Symphonic Black Metal, Dimmu Borgir, Carach Angren
Being a debut, there’s very little reason why this one is as good as it is but therein lies the fact that this Ukrainian act has just positioned themselves at the forefront of the genre with this commanding, impressive release. Being a Symphonic Black Metal act, there’s very little about this that should appear as a surprise to any listener for the band simply opts for an excessive amount of cinematic-style keyboards that appear as if they’re scoring the battle to an epic battle in a Fantasy/Adventure film, which is precisely the case here but then the band throws one of the few genuinely impressive curveballs around with the ability to actually compose material for the guitars to go winding through the lead on here. Filled with tough, muscular rhythms bristling with technical rhythms and blinding speed, there’s a majesty and grace afforded to these rhythms that nicely off-sets the swirling keyboards and makes this music all the more enjoyable. With all this impressive material up-front of the album, there’s little reason why the spectacular drumming holds up or the dynamic bass-lines keep this going but there’s just so much to like here that this one really gets a lot to like about it. While some of the epics could’ve been trimmed down some, there’s still not much to dislike here as the most expansive epic here is the most enjoyable and blistering piece of music on the album so there’s little to not like about that feature here as the songs are just that good. After the pointless noise collage of ‘Gates to Oblivion,’ proper first song Dies Irae’ gets this going nicely with a stellar combination of their influences wrapped in a tight, muscular package that overwhelms to the point of utter enjoyment. ‘Manifestation ov Dark Essence’ is pretty similar only does so with less time, proving that the band doesn’t need to pen epic-length material to have an epic sound and comes off as one of the better highlights here. Even better, the title track manages to come off as utterly, incredibly bombastic with an overload of symphonic keyboards mixed nicely alongside the chaotic guitar patterns while generating a lot of great rhythms and faster tempos than anything before it, serving as a back-to-back highlight. The melancholic ‘My Death’ attempts to place mid-tempo plodding and atmospheric keyboard work instead of the bombastic symphony-laden approach which gets a little tiresome just due to the meandering mid-section but still has the right approach to remain likeable enough. ‘Triumph of the Beast’ is yet another epic-length barnburner like the title track which gets in plenty of raging symphonic leads, tight guitars and pounding drumming with a touch of the atmospheric for yet another stand-out effort. While not an overall bad song, ‘The XI-th Angle’ does tend to sound like most of the others here so it doesn’t really stand out in any special way yet still contains all the greatness of what made the others so enjoyable so it does have a lot to like about it. The expansive epic ‘Naglfar’ pretty much makes most of the other tracks here obsolete with a solid nine-plus minutes of technical guitar-work, blazing drumming that hurtles forth at maximum speed for the duration of the track and off-set with gorgeous keyboards shimmering and humming along wielding explosive energies and non-stop tempo variations, making for one of the most enjoyable pieces of music in the scene and single-handedly making this a must-buy release. While not up to par with that gorgeous epic, ‘Egocide’ is still quite enjoyable with a multi-sectioned approach of plodding, mid-tempo work with gorgeous, lighter keyboards up front while delving into traditional blasting-heavy approaches and plenty of bombast in the second half. About the only really weak effort here, ‘Re-Birth’ is just too slow and lethargic to make the most of its ho-hum bombast and middling tempo. ‘Dreamless’ is simply just a simple, spacey keyboard melody signaling the end of the journey as this ends on a positive note. Like a breath of fresh air in the genre, this is easily one of the more impressive Symphonic Black Metal acts to come along in a while and is the start of a hopefully impressive career.