LamiaUkraine’s Lamia Culta are an example of a near total shift of direction between albums. We usually see this kind of metamorphosis happen throughout various records in a certain band’s career, but what is surprising in the case of Lamia Culta is the fact that this shift happened in totally abrupt fashion between their debut “Patre Satane” and their newest release “Woman Scarred”.

Whereas this was a fully functional band in 2009, with a very distinct breed of symphonic black metal, now in 2013, Lamia Culta is reduced to one sole member, Fosco Culto, who singlehandedly recorded all the instruments and produced a radically different body of work, comprised of dark and profound ambient music. The word “metal” can only be scarcely applied to the material on this second record, as this mixture of deep and somber sounds isn’t necessarily black metal in its sound, but it embodies the genre’s principles, its intensity and essence throughout its songs.

Referring to the music as a whole, “Woman Scarred” has the background of a dark wave of sound, which serves as a basis for the release of a plethora of various dissonant, discordant and sometimes feedback-like sounds. In certain moments, we feel the total absence of melody, and the pure fabrication of a deeply profound and eerie atmosphere. This fusion often served as a “painter’s pallet” to Fosco Culto’s alternating chants of horror and beauty which can be heard scattered throughout the album.

The absence of steady and consistent rhythms is notorious. The songs are mainly driven by meshes of dark sounds sounding like a swarm or an aerial plague from hell. When they’re present, in and far between, the rhythms are essentially march-like patterns, occasionally accentuating the songs’ dynamics.

The diversity of instruments employed and its combined use is impressive, given the fact that we’re talking about a single multi-instrumentalist who carefully thought out all the different ways of summoning emotional states through each particular instrument. We often hear flutes, harps, guitars, piano and keyboards in between synthesized sounds, in the service of a mood creation or an emotional display.

Having all of this in account, “Woman Scarred” is indeed an experimental affair, no doubts about that. And as such, like it turns out to be with some albums that try to pave a more adventurous path, it’s plagued by inconsistency at times. Some creative choices do work well, but there will be times where the listener will be wondering about what went through Culto’s mind to create such bizarre compositions.

Well, one thing’s certain. Though this might be an album from a former Black Metal project, and though it encapsulates its essence in its different moments, it won’t be a release suitable for everyone’s ears and tastes. You either have to be a fan of this kind of music or to set yourself into a specific mood to fully understand this sound. The album is not necessarily hard to hear, but it’s definitely defiant and uncomfortable at times. If you’re into dark wave, experimental and ambient music, you might deem this one good for you. Other than that, if you’re waiting for anything a little bit more “metal” given the band’s past, chances are, you’ll end off being sadly disappointed.

(6/10 Luis Alves)