Adammenon – Nero

30/11/2011 § Leave a comment

After the hugely effective and accomplished EP that was Mortuary Chambers, you could be forgiven for thinking that Adamennon would follow it in a similar vein. That release was, quite simply, a beautiful onyx-black and gravely heavy offering of dark ambience. Especially since the artwork to Nero is so similar, there’s a lot to imply a continuation. Adamennon has never liked overstructuring though, and this time round the dark ambience has been lifted and injected with a plumping of experimentation and sampling. It’s something which doesn’t wholly pay off. Since the early days and the creation of his formative works, the only thing that has been consistent about Adamennon’s albums has been their inconsistency. And once again, that’s the case here.

Adamennon’s work in black ambience and black metal has always had a firm focus on concept contortion and belying genre tradition; he has a fixation with playing with expectation whilst keeping the genres’ traditional conceits. These days, his dark ambient work gets the same treatment, and here he gives us seven tracks in various degrees of experimental ambience using clean guitar riffs and loops, drones and church organs. Even though the ingredients may be promising, the final result unfortunately isn’t. The whole thing is full of disparity; Nero is an experiment rather than a statement, and it actually feels like one. After going through this several times I still get the impression that the music is fumbling blindfold in the dark for some kind of trajectory and purpose. There is no rhythmic pulse of heart, no crystallisation of catharsis. If anything, it’s a jumble of dark ambient clichés, tipped and sorted in the wrong order.

Nero does have its positive moments, the excellent elongated drones of “Gli Ultimi Passi Nel Buio” and the glitches and white noise of “la Lettera Di Asmodeo” are disturbingly effective, but instances such as these are all too seldom. In a way its formulaic, but only by it’s own standards. Most tracks revolve around repeating the same instrumental loop for several minutes and then pasting some stock dark ambient soundbytes over the top. As a result, there’s no feeling, no perturbation and no beautiful dread that one would come to expect: the ‘experimentation’ is nothing avant-garde or fresh, but just something slightly different from what the genre normally engages itself with. Consequently Nero fails at being emotive, or indeed interesting. It’s a work of gesture, born from the right intentions but severely lost in execution.

One thing’s for certain, Adamennon does possess the rite and the capability to make interesting dark ambience at times. Nero shows signs of his passion for darkness and melding it with the beauty and uplift of melody, while helixing the two together in a cluster. But experimentation of this kind only works in piecemeal amounts, while Nero tends to overseason itself with too many elements, too many thoughts in one mind, and the album ends up sounding crowded in a genre built on minimalism. If Adamennon could tone down the repetitiveness and concentrate more on plain, linear feeling, then the road forward would be a more successful one. However, with such saturation as Nero possesses, its depth is not something to be understood as much as forgiven.

Rating: 2/5

The Morningside – TreeLogia (The Album As It Is Not)

27/11/2011 § Leave a comment

A few bands could take a leaf out of The Morningside’s book. Treelogia is the third release from Russia’s learned apprentices of death doom metal, but it sees them regressing their output rather than enrobing themselves in an entirely new fabric. Whereas the pull and sting of a new album may be too stressful for some, The Morningside have taken the road of reworking and expanding a track from their 2007 debut, and annexing another 35 minutes of music onto its length. Given that two out of the tree main songs from “The Wind, The Trees and The Shadows of the Past” were highly becoming and polished – if derivative – the odds were in their favour to choose well. “The Trees” sees itself rerecorded and expanded from 9 minutes to 12, and gets pole position and a renaming as The Trees Part One. Parts Two and Three are entirely new material, though keeping the same themes as their predecessor lyrically and musically.

Most websites can’t seem to decide exactly what Treelogia is. Some call it an album, others call it an EP, whereas the official description of the release is that it’s a single, albeit one that comes in at nearly 50 minutes. Mind you, in these days when traditional concepts of EP length are being both toyed with and ridiculed by bands like Moonsorrow, the tag hardly means anything anymore. Treelogia certainly feels more like an album, and even in name likes to play with the construct. The idea for the original track of “The Trees” to become something greater instilled itself many years ago in the band’s mindset, and it now comes to full realisation as this doomy triptych.

It’s an intelligent move rather than a work-shy one. The Morningside have always been keen to involve their fanbase in their work, being masters of their own output and schedules; they even uploaded a work-in-progress copy of their sophomore album, Moving Crosscurrent of Time, for free download before the gold release hit the record stores. Treelogia continues the band’s unbroken run of quality and is arguably superior to both their previous albums with its slow, introspective pacing, excellent guitar melodies and Igor Nikitin’s perfectly grating vocal performance. Part One is a familiar piece to most fans, only being lengthened by an ethereal intro. Part Two, however, is one of the best tracks the band have ever come out with: Nikitin sounds better than ever with his piercing, gritty vocals before the track explodes into an excellent instrumental solo, one which most doom bands would relish to feature so effectively. The 20+ minute Part Three tones down the murky heaviness and gives us some more ambience with its intensity, though still retaining the metallic strength of its forebears.

Treelogia is a work born very much from honesty. There’s an indubitable alchemy, commitment and crispness to its sound. Gone are the somewhat wayward, meandering strains of Moving Crosscurrent of Time: with this release the music comes from the band’s very soul more than ever, the musk and kindling of the woodland essence transmitted with almost perfect accuracy. Treelogia is confident of its purpose to capture and display a forested atmosphere in musical form; all the beauty and danger of the seasonal downturn have their parapet here. It’s a composite, heartfelt, luscious work of death doom metal, both inspired by and honouring the Autumn. It’s also an album that concentrates very much on melody – that which resonates within nature and inside the heart of all those who understand and respect it on a personal level.

The wonder and marvel of nature is something which The Morningside have got soldered onto their consciousness. Unlike so many metal bands who pile on the prosaisms of forested rituals, The Morningside are able to pay respect to their musical and wordly inspirations effectively. In this light, Treelogia becomes less than a dedication to the natural world, and more of an offering. It’s the Moscow quartet’s understanding and love of the darker side of the earth, put across with skill and feeling. Ever since their first album The Morningside were a formidable addition to classic death doom metal: it’s about time that they garnered the attention they so richly deserve, and with this proud addition to their already impressive catalogue, they can count themselves as one of the finest in their genre today.

Rating: 4.5/5

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