Monday, 27 June 2011

Desiderium – An Image of Solitude (Tex's Review)

Desiderium is a two-man black metal project. However, unlike the droves of atrocious bedroom black metal polluting the world today, Desiderium’s material is well thought out, well written and enjoyable to listen to. Desiderium plays a symphonic, often progressive breed of black metal that reminds me specifically of Agalloch and later Immortal.

The album starts with an ambient synth intro which at just under five minutes stretches far beyond what it should have. However, when the first song “Forest of Forgotten Memories” starts the album takes off in a big way. The song is full of sorrowful melodies and layers of guitars and synths. The meandering song structure of this and all songs on the album contain doomy plodding parts, blasty intense sections and beautiful synth breaks and guitar solos.

The guitar work on this release is truly fantastic. As much as I love ceaseless tremolo picked droning for an entire album, it’s great to hear some actual riffs on an underground black metal release! The soloing is not only competent, which in itself would be a blessing, but is really top notch stuff including great phrasing on the melodic parts and bouts of shredding used tastefully throughout, especially in the track “Pale Cloak of Dawn”. The synth work serves to add both melody and texture to the release without ever feeling overpowering or over the top cheesy. The synth often backs the guitars or playing counterpoint melodies for some great entwined, dense pieces of music.

The harsh vocals are a competent, if somewhat monotone midrange gargle. They fit the music well enough but are underwhelming compared to the great music and don’t sit very comfortably in the mix. The clean vocals that pop up on the last two songs “Waldeinsamkeit” and “The Passing of Life From Troubled Eyes” are fantastic and I would have liked to hear them utilized more in the other songs. Lyrically the album focuses on mountains, forests, ravens etc., well written, sorrowful but never melodramatic.  Another plus for this album is the competence of the drum programming. The drums are composed well, never monotonous and never draw attention to their synthetic nature. The mix and production are also far beyond your usual black metal project, clean clear and balanced without sounding overproduced.

While this album is mostly a winner, the songs can get a bit too meandering with not enough focus, and not every song had to be in the seven to nine minute range. While the melodies and riffs are great, they can start to sound a bit samey near the end of the album. It took me quite a few listens to fully appreciate everything and before anything jumped out as being super memorable, but I certainly didn’t mind listening over and over again! With a bit more focus and tightness in the song writing this could have been amazing. As it is, it’s still really good progressive black metal.

Tex's rating: 86%

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