Omen Ex Simulacra is a beast of a record - a record whose technicality doesn't get in the way of its menacing darkness and thick, haunting atmosphere. The claustrophobic feel of the record I can only compare to that of Portal's most recent works, but it's not quite that chaotic. Form and content do not do battle on these songs, as they might in the hands of less visionary or talented artists; in this case, they form a perfect gestalt of aura and expertise, making this record tough to compete with.
In lieu of my incessant babbling about how good this record is, I will direct you to the Debemur Morti Bandcamp page to stream it in full, or download it if you so choose. The digipack CD edition is available now, and the vinyl is just a few days away. Both can be ordered now from Debemur Morti. HINT: The gatefold 2xLP features two bonus tracks. Some pretty t-shirt packages are also available to order.
You may already be familiar with M.S.W. of Hell. The more well-known of the two bands on the LP, Hell has released 3 full lengths and a number of splits, and has toured the US and played festivals such as Stella Natura and the first Gilead Media Fest. The 15-minute Hell track on this LP, "Foetorem Timere," is divided into three parts that flow into one another very organically. This starts with a gorgeous, folk-ish acoustic piece that in the second part turns electric, gradually getting darker and murkier. The atmosphere is enhanced by a reading of what I think is a biblical passage, and whoever does this reading sounds like he believes that all hope is lost. And then the doom comes in - cacophonous slabs of feedback-soaked doom that crawl along as the third part of the song develops, finally coming to a close with some leftover feedback and pure droning darkness. It culminates with one more short reading from that same biblical passage, to deliver us.
מזמור is the more obscure of these two artists, but hopefully that will start to change here, as the band (whose name is perhaps more recognizable as Mizmor) adds a 15 minute track to the other side of the LP. The Mizmor song, titled "Epistemological Rupture," begins with a brutal, fast paced assault of of crushing riffage, before slowing way the fuck down and adding some severely terrorizing, blackened vocals to let you know that you are in a very evil place. The guitars are on this track are so dense and thick that they threaten to break down at any and every second, sending the song into total chaos. But A.L.N. never lets loses control - and that is his mastery here, as he allows the song to spiral into near-disarray, pulling the reigns in only when absolutely necessary. As the song closes with a beautiful and sorrowful melody, I am reminded of one important fact that this music reflects.
There is darkness that obscures all light in shadow, and there is darkness that transcends - a radiant darkness that allows you to see your path. The music on this LP is of the latter variety, finely crafted and powerfully performed.
This will be delivered in late December or early January, on 180-gram black vinyl limited to 500 copies, and will include a 12x18 black and white two-sided insert with information and lyrics. You can listen to short previews and preorder now, from either of the bands, here or here.
I've been sitting on this for a long time. For an inexplicably long time. I've been raving about this album ad nauseum since it was released by Sepulchral Productions in July but haven't written about it, in part because I wanted to see if my initial impressions stood the test of repeated listens.
Quebec black metal duo Gris (French for grey) brings us their 2nd (well, really it's their 3rd, but only the second since the band name was changed from Niflheim) album, titled À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée..., and not only has it met my rather lofty expectations, but has raised the bar for black metal in a very profound way. Their first record, Il Était une Forêt... has long been a favorite of mine, and is a record that I listen to quite frequently. I was hoping to hear more of the same on this new record, and I'm quite glad that I don't. Don't get me wrong - they haven't employed some sort of major shift in their sound or their approach to black metal. They're simply doing it better now - much, much better. And to be frank, that is saying quite a lot.
This is, simply put, one of the most beautiful metal records I've ever heard. It does everything that a black metal record should, and then some. It presents gorgeous acoustic passages that are stunning in their neo-classical instrumentation, replete with pianos, violins and cellos, creating an a atmosphere that is melancholy but not particularly sad. And when the black metal comes in, the riffs are so monumentally grand, the vocals so full of fury and fire, the bass and drums so perfect in their unmitigated might, that it's impossible to avoid being sucked into the world that this album creates.
For me, the world created by this world is one in which romanticism reigns supreme. That perception may in part be a product of what I've been reading, but time and time again it makes sense: this record is the perfect musical manifestation of Romanticism (and by that I mean a disavowal of modernity, and a yearning for a time, place, and culture long since destroyed by this era of "progress"). Romantic themes are common in black metal, but nowhere has that kind of vibe been so seamlessly incorporated into the music than on À l'âme enflammée, l'äme constellée... The production is clean, the musicality undeniable, and the emotion pure and genuine. This record demands your undivided attention in every possible way. It is a double album, over 80 minutes in length, but when it is done you almost can't believe it's over because the experience of submitting yourself to it has been one of contemplative joy.
Available in a standard edition, and also as a 6-panel digipack. No vinyl as of yet, but I've heard that it will eventually be released on vinyl. Get it now from one of the best labels in North America, Sepulchral Productions. And please, check out their other new releases from Sombres Forêts, Monarque, and Neige Éternelle. While I'm not reviewing it here, the Sombres Forêts album La Mort du Soleil is on par with this Gris record. Amazing band, amazing album. Do yourself the favor of picking it up.