Chill out music for the metal masses was something I alluded to two weeks ago, almost in jest, when I was reviewing a certain high quality and ethereally inclined funeral doom album. But I was surprised to so quickly come across something which could very well have been included almost in its entirety on a Cafe Del Mar compilation CD. Now, please understand me, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Nor is the pedigree of this release. Sunset in the 12th House comes from two masterminds behind legendary Romanian black metal band Negură Bunget.
In fact, if I had to describe this in one sentence, I’d say it’s a piece of music that sounds a lot like all the bits Negură Bunget put between the black metal shenanigans made into an entire album. Bloody hell, I hear you cry, sounds great! (Well, I’m sure some of you cried that anyway). Well, I’d agree with that, particularly with this coming on one of my favourite labels Prophecy. Psychedelic “post” rock sounds good to me too. Except, with all this post-this and post-that going on, it was only a matter of time before the post was well and truly past and we caught ourselves just being the post bit and not the bit that came before it…. If you get my meaning.
Ok, let me try again. Overall, this pretty entertaining. Mozaic is a mostly instrumental, largely undistorted journey through some pleasant guitar widdling with the occasional bit of rock and post-black metal snippets delivered into the mix. The final track, the shortest at just five minutes, even steps on the distortion pedal and kicks in with some growled vocals for good measure just in case you had forgotten where you were and what planet you were on. Together with the previous track, Rejuvenation, also vying to be the shortest track, it’s probably the best section of the album.
But the first five tracks is where this is really at in terms of the overall sound which dominates the album. Post-Negură Bunget, post-black metal and post-rock with the occasional folky, eastern flavour thrown in. The guitars employ a lot of tremolo riffs at soaring pitches to create that classic, soul-feeding experience that the shoegaze-style tends to deliver. All very proggy and very nearly a mouth-watering experience but, in the final analysis, does this amount to much more than a collection of nice sounds spliced together onto an hour-long album? Hupogrammos and Sol Faur are also the masterminds behind Dordeduh and I also reviewed that album on this very site three years ago. It struck me as fascinating in some respects but I always felt like it never quite got to where it could have done. Spending too much time exploring the Carpathian foothills rather than aiming for the peaks to capture an exhilarating view.
This time round I feel a little the same. Each track – averaging around 9 minutes each – tends to kick off with a mesmerising build up that you’re hoping is heading somewhere pretty special. But the promised psychedelic ride never quite takes off. At times I felt this could have been produced in a jamming session rather than being a clever mind-fcuk from a group of calculating and experienced musicians, It’s just a little too repetitive to be enjoyed to the full without, I suspect, some help from something grown under intense UV light, dried, rolled and smoked. The overall effect is like a warm breeze blowing off the arid plains but what it’s lacking for me is an edge. The scent of something inspired – or just disconcertingly weird would do.
I’m resigned to the fact that I may be going against the grain with this one. And to be fair this is certainly not a bad album and I can see it’s pretty much in keeping with Prophecy’s track record of promoting more progressive, moodily ambient and neofolk bands. But other bands on the roster are far more off-the-wall while others offer dark, trippy experiences that would both confuse and scare the crap out of the Cafe Del Mar generation. It’s not that this is a worthy addition to that stable as something a bit different. Except that this could have been incendiary and instead it only just about singed my eyebrows.
(7/10 Reverend Darkstanley)