This album has been hyped up for a while as being another project to feature the talents of one Mr Kvaforth (Shining). While it can’t quite accurately be described as a black metal supergroup, it does play out rather like a who’s who in the scene. The album features a grand total of 11 guest musicians; in addition to Niklas K and Peter Huss of Shining, there are performances from members of Pantheon I, Urgehal, 1349, Absu, Trollfest and Ram-Zet.
This was definitely one of those albums that grabbed me on first listen. There is plenty going on in here and yet at the same time it is simple enough to be considered extremely catchy. Okay so the outsider is obviously going to disagree here, but this is incredibly tuneful and there are some excellent melodies to grab onto, especially when you hear a track like ‘Perfect’ which is one of the few tracks here that I have had whirring round in my head the past few days. There is some particularly nice crisp guitar work here, veering towards an industrial march, and the juxtaposition of the majestic clean vocals on the chorus with the more traditional blackened vocals is particularly good. This manages to be relatively up-tempo while an underlying melancholic vibe comes across rather strong.
The album utilises various non-traditional metal instruments and ‘Suicide Syndrome’ comes in with a seductive saxophone that really lures me in before rolling forth at a mid-paced crawl. This all has a rather depressive tone to it, with hypnotic guitars, a powerful bassline and the vocals come over as a really harrowing shriek filled with anguish and despair. This strikes me as being very cerebral and also beautifully soothing. ‘Suffer In Silence’ maunders in with sorrowful violins giving a very classical and calming feel, before breaking down and coming in with a depressively hypnotic guitar and a cello that subtly haunts the mix and really adds to the despondent feel of things. Kvarforth’s vocals fully compliment this incredibly Shining-esque number and especially as things descend into a moment of utter despair as we hear a woman crying which reminds me of Shining V. The chorus sweeps along with downbeat grace, wallowing in its own misery as the music all seems to build beneath the majestic vocals. There is plenty of depth to the music here with layer upon layer of gorgeous instrumentation, velveteen bass lines, relentless drums and mesmerising guitars. There is tons of atmosphere and at times it is incredibly haunting, this track being especially beautiful but really there isn’t a weak track on here.
‘My Precious’ has a nice slow creeping melody and another incredibly catchy chorus, utilising that Kvarforth-esque “Ooough” on numerous occasions. Okay, Eric Unsgaard who provides vocals really has got that Gollum impression down, which I found quite amusing on first listen. The title track comes in with quite a clean, crisp melody which feels a bit Gothy, before an oppressive guitar mood arises like a black cloud. There are some absolutely stunning tracks on this album which strikes just the right balance between catchiness and depressiveness. The musicianship is excellent, there are some great guest solos and slick performances and it is all steeped in atmosphere and passion. I have verbally lambasted other writers for giving too many high marks and am generally not one for giving anything above a 7 to anything that does not absolutely deserve it, but this is a downright exceptional album and one that any fan of depressive music needs in their life.
(9/10 Luci Herbert)