In my book, it’s the sign of a good album when I finding myself asking what on earth am I listening to. This album is the first from this band from Rome since 2014. The sophistication of this album is such that I wouldn’t be surprised if the in part appropriately named Embrace of Disharmony had spent five years creating it.

Not a second is wasted on the ten minute “De Primordiis Rervm”. After electronic cosmic distortions, it’s over to the progressive bombast of Symphony X, yet it’s also the black metal of Dimmu Borgir, and the fury of Stormlord. This wild adventure has the symphony of Therion. The male and female vocalists do their utmost to spook us. The high pitch is of Jon Anderson or Borknagar. The harmonies and spoken sections are disturbing, and yet convey the flow of stories. The harmonisation between the two is magnificent, none more so than on the acoustic deathly “De Motv Primordiorvm Rervm”. The vocalists are like two bats fluttering menacingly in the sky as the mayhem bombs on. Now and then it changes direction, and takes us somewhere else that is turbulent and mystical. I saw the word avant-garde attached to this hyperactive music. If avant-garde means abnormal or not following a pattern, then that’s what it is.

Even with all these metal and non-metal elements, symphonies, pianos, electronica and goodness knows what else, this spooky piece of pomp and majesty works and is impossible to ignore. “De Infinitate Orbivm” has that ghoulish house-on-the hill effect with its cascading piano, soaring symphonics, metal angst and of course those strange outer-worldly vocals. We pass through sinister territories and twisty sophistications on “De Mortalitate Animae”, and there’s a jazzy feel, but all the time there is symphonic metal tension and the piece builds up fury. The vocals are so unusual that they seem out of place, both spatially and musically, but this is a work of the unusual kind. A spoken piece starts the melancholic “De Pavore Mortis”. Black fury ensues but true to the transforming style, the middle section has a funereal edge before the winds whip up again and we are blown away into the stormy skies but in a complex way. This multi-faceted piece ends in melancholic mode as it had begun. A distorted voice can faintly be heard through the cosmic field. “De Captionibvs Amoris” perpetuates the dark atmosphere, to which we’ve become accustomed. Again it is complex and flamboyant, while lacking the eccentric edge of its predecessors. A war-like beat then introduces but as ever the turn is not predictable. The beat becomes the accompaniment to a pleasant harmony. But after a break, the mood changes Haken style and led by the keyboards, we’re thrust into a symphonic cosmic world. The chorus is still Haken like but the scene changes again into a progressive-power sphere. The whispering vocalist and the dark and sinister symphonies take us into a yet murkier world. A blackened burst of fury is overtaken by melancholic gloom. Finally, the epic heights are reached. “De Formatione Orbis” is another psychedelic avant garde adventure. It came as no surprise that this song came to a theatrical end because that’s what this album is: theatrical. Amazing.

“Extreme metal contaminations” is a description I read. It’s a neat one. “De Rervm Natvra” is a lot to take in but well worth the investment in time. Any band that manages to pull so many ideas in such a creative and cohesive way deserves our attention, and Embrace of Disharmony do just that.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)