I’ve had a really good run of metal reviews over the past few weeks, and, with the obvious exception of Myrkur, this is probably my least favorite. However, this is the toughest one to say goodbye to and move on from. This Swedish (though we won’t hold that against them) band has quite a colorful personality. From their Wikipedia entry:
Five of the group’s six members wear virtually identical, face-concealing costumes. The most distinguishable member is the vocalist, who wears a prosthetic face with skull face paint, appearing as what can be described as a “demonic anti-Pope.” … The band members’ true identities are kept anonymous.
The group’s vocalist portrays the band’s mascot character, a Satanic priest known as Papa Emeritus. There have been three different characters taking the name Papa Emeritus, each younger than the last. … [T]he second Papa Emeritus welcomed his younger brother as the new Papa Emeritus…after being “fired” due to not performing his duty in overthrowing governments and churches.
Okay, so a Scandinavian metal band is acting mysterious and attracting attention due to their “Satanism.” There’s not much new there, but the way these guys do it is almost sweet and charming. There aren’t any cookie monster vocals, the melodies, driven in large part by keys, are at the forefront, and the tempi sound more like Blue Öyster Cult than anything released as metal since the 90’s, and, as far as I can tell, they haven’t burned down any 1000-year-old churches. This is my kind of satanic. When, in “He Is,” they sing “Two star-crossed lovers reaching out/To the beast with many names,” it makes Satanism appear tender and romantic.
In fact, I wonder if the biggest part of their controversy is because the music is so sugary-sweet and accessible, at times recalling Asia or ELO, and the lyrics are understandable, thus creating an easier gateway into the dark arts than screaming scary, nearly rabid dudes. For my part, I wish that, at these tempi, they would be heavier, more like the fuzzed-out Khemmis. But, then again, that’s not quite right…it’s more like I wish the production were bigger, more epic, to match the Classical bent of the lyrics (there are parts of “He Is” sung in Latin) and the grandeur of the band’s theme. I guess I just wish it sounded more like the cover looks.
See what I mean about this being the worst of the great metal albums I’ve been reviewing lately? And it is damned good, its 41 minutes passing effortlessly and enjoyably, even if they leave you wanting a bit more. And so now I move on to the next album and, due to this record’s accessibility and catchiness, will probably remember my time with it even more fondly than it actually was. That’s not such a bad thing.
Love: “Deus In Absentia”
Really Like: “From The Pinnacle To The Pit,” “He Is,” “Mummy Dust,” “Absolution”
Like: “Spirit,” “Cirice,” “Majesty,” “Devil Church”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Spirit –
- From The Pinnacle To The Pit – the second single
- Cirice – first single. A bit too long and boring, but still good.
- Spöksonat – “Ghost Sonata”. Kind of a segue track, has the same melody as “Cirice”
- He Is – “Two star-crossed lovers reaching out/To the beat with many names”. also some Latin lyrics
- Mummy Dust –
- Majesty – third single. Such a great riff. Like a classic Judas Priest riff at AC/DC speeds.
- Devil Church – segue track. instrumental. organ. chorus. 66 seconds.
- Absolution – reminds of Asia or ELO or something like that
- Deus In Absentia –