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Capsule Reviews III

I thought these weren’t going to be a ‘regular’ feature back in 2013, but “approximately one per year” seems like an acceptable rate of introspection these days. 2012 was an… interesting year for Invisible Blog. I was trying to launch a great deal of projects and also trying to promote First Contact Is Bad For You. In the mean time, I did a lot of non-music writing for various reasons. Despite this, I ended up with plenty of music to re-review.

Gargoyle – Furebumi (1990): It’s still great. Were you expecting any less? While Gargoyle has produced many strong albums over the years, I think this one might still be the best of their discography for its overall intensity. It makes for a rather different experience than many of the other power-thrash metal hybrids I’ve collected due to its apparent J-rock influences and occasional diversions into such styles, which would become more prominent at various points in their career.

Dissection – The Somberlain (1993): It’s still lame. Arguably, the first half of this album is consistent, but compared to something like Sacramentum’s debut, I’m underwhelmed. The Somberlain doesn’t have much direction in its songwriting, and it completely collapses in its second half. Word on the street is that Dissection’s career was all downhill from there..

Therion – Lepaca Kliffoth (1995): This is arguably where Therion jumped the shark, although I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions that they managed to pull off their new symphonic style pretty well on later albums. This album is arguably strongest in its sparsest moments most reminiscent of the band’s death metal past, but these days I even derive some enjoyment from some of the sillier, more operatic tracks like “The Beauty in Black”.

Enslaved – Eld (1997): Hard to say how actually good this is these days. Its greatest weakness, as I see it, is that it’s more formulaic than Vikingligr Veldi. There are still some strong, atmospheric tracks on this, including the epic “793”, and it does effectively incorporate some aggression into the band’s sound without going totally overboard like its immediate successor.

Sigh – Infidel Art (1995): Probably the start of Sigh’s ambitions proper, because Scorn Defeat was certainly more conventional of a black/doom album (not entirely so). Infidel Art is full of consistently lengthy songs that probably could’ve used a bit of editing to remove some of the more incongruous elements, but it’s still a fine work, and it makes for good contrast with their more rock-inflected later works.

Sorcier Des Glaces – Moonrise in Total Darkness (2006): Since it’s better produced than either version of Snowland and a bit more varied in its overall approach than The Puressence of Primitive Forests, this is the SDG album that gets the most spintime on my computer. Not that the others are bad, but this one feels… special. I still need to check out Ritual of the End one of these aeons.

Susumu Hirasawa – Blue Limbo (2003): I haven’t comprehensively followed Hirasawa’s works since 2010/2011 or so, but Blue Limbo was basically the peak of the Southeast Asian influences (and sampled vocals) in his work. To be honest, I found some of the slower and more ambient tracks required some acclimation to get used to back in the day. It’s hard to be objective about some of these albums, since I’ve been listening for so many years. You’d think these capsule re-reviews would help, but sometimes they just don’t.

Absu – The Third Storm of Cythraul (1998): This might actually be better than Tara. It’s not as fast or technical, but it seems to have more coherent songwriting in general. Not sure what’s up with that. On the other hand, it doesn’t have “Stone of Destiny”…

Nightfall – Athenian Echoes (1995): As an awkward fusion of extreme metal tropes with minor “gothic” and “industrial” experiments, this is at best, the sloppy second tier of Greek metal. I’m sure the band tries, and some of these tracks are fairly ambitious, but the execution is wanting more often than not.

Desultor – Masters of Hate (2012): Extreme power metal is definitely a thing, although the varieties with actually sung vocals are a bit rare. This makes Desultor’s debut extra special, at least by accessibility standards. Unfortunately, the band apparently went on hold, if Encyclopedia Metallum is to be believed. I’m sure other bands will take up this substyle if it’s of any value, though.

Like the 2011 edition, this episode is full of albums I still enjoy, although not entirely so. That would render this issue pointless, if you ask me.

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  1. 2017/02/06 at 19:12

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