The bombastic operatic Metal of Avantasia continues apace with their eighth album Moonglow (Nuclear Blast), and just in case you were in any doubt it opens with a nigh on ten minute slice of pomp that would not sound out of place on Meatloaf’s Bat Out Of Hell 2 (MCA/Virgin). The conceptual nature and fantastical sound of previous album Ghostlights is expanded upon here, helped by the ample time Tobias Sammet was given when making it. Continue reading
Formed in 2014, Denigrata (who hail from the Midlands, UK) are an avant-garde black metal collective, focused on pushing the extreme metal genre with what they call ‘noire concrête’. Self-released début album Missa Defunctoram is based on Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor and is sung in Latin, consequently it’s no surprise all members came together through higher education music degrees. Mozart’s requiem was composed as he was dying, instilling a suitable motif of morbidity to their unique twist on black metal.
There is such an amalgamation of components that form their overall sound; as such it’s quite a difficult album to take in. There are transcendental and industrial sections, along with sweeping guitar melodies, pneumatic drill kick drums and a combination of screamed and operatic vocals. Switching up between fast, ferocious onslaughts and icy, macabre atmospheres, it’s unpredictable and at times a total head fuck. Call me old-fashioned but much of it represents unintelligible, chaotic noise.
The more stripped back sections however show greater promise; ‘Kyrie Eleison’ features a down tempo guitar melody, with a haunting piano in the background and sorrowful screamed vocals layered with the operatic style, which is beautiful. Where the album digresses for me is the forcing together of so many different elements, ‘Confutatis Maledictis’ and ‘Requiem Aeternam’ in particular are directionless and confusing. The operatic vocals work in parts and not in others, but seem to get in thrown in anywhere regardless. The more transcendental atmospheric sections on the other hand are cohesive and resonate far better. ‘Rex Tremendae’ begins with a stunning haunting and almost ritualistic ambience, and a prime example of how the operatic vocals can be so effective when placed correctly.
Their commitment to creating something distinctive is commendable, however it comes across too convoluted and the more simplistic aspects that work a lot better are engulfed by the surrounding chaos. Whilst the meeting of musically academic minds may seem like such an advantage, it often over complicates ideas, which is unfortunately reflected in Missa Defunctoram.
Can’t stand Symphonic, Power, or Operatic Metal? Do you hate it when a vocalist gets all wobbly-wailey? Do you think that keyboards have no place in “Troo Metulz”? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then walk on swiftly – this album ain’t for you, friend.
If, on the other hand, your strasse is populated by the likes of Symphony X, Kamelot, Helloween, Hammerfall or Firewind and you don’t mind a bit of Children of Bodom (before they turned themselves into a riff recycling plant, obvs) thrown in for effect, then St. Demonius (Despotz) by Tad Morose may well be worth an hour or so of your time.
Personally, I like a little less vibrato in my vocalists, and a bit more variety from my guitarists, but I think this album stands up well amongst the pantheon of Power Metal. Mainly, because whilst giving you (most of) the power/operatic staples, it also injects an edge of heaviness that sets it apart from its peers & ancestors. It loses points, however, due to the lack of cheesy guitar solos and fist-pump singalong choruses (there are singalongs to be found, but it’s all taking itself rather seriously). For me, these are the things that the different branches of Power Metal are all about, but I’m sure St. Demonius will find an audience to fill rooms with a sea of leather patch jackets and metal claws.
The album opens with ‘Bow to The Reapers Blade’, which is a straight up fusion of Bodom & Firewind (this is a Good Thing). ‘Your Own Demise’ follows next, with some nice bounce, crunchy riffs and some nice vocal hooks; I particularly like the lyric “succumb to my greatness” – I shall have to steal that. ‘Forlorn’ opens with a hook line that’s almost Rammstein and opens out with a Symphony X breakdown. Different. And good. Some excellent choral arrangements with layered vocals make this an epic track which will surely be a crowd favourite. Other standout tracks are ‘Where Ignorance Reigns’, the rifftastic ‘Black Fire’ and ‘The Shadows Play’, a track that has it all, including my vote as best track on the album and ‘Fear Subside’ and its twin guitar noodling!.
All in all, an enjoyable listen and a solid…