Release DetailsLABEL Elegy Music
RELEASED ON 11/1/2004
posted on 2/2005 By:
You don't often hear the phrase "Italian black metal". Luckily when you do, it's usually good. I'm pretty receptive when it comes to reviewing albums from the Italian label, Elegy, due to the fine albums by Thor's Hammer, Abazagorath, and Hate Forest. Ars Macabre began back in 1998 as a two-piece, turned into a four-piece, went back to a two-piece, and as I understand it now, are now two-piece with a vocalist. To put it bluntly, they sound sort of like Marduk with a drum machine.
A typical problem with most extreme music is the inclusion of industrial/electronic attributes that either don't remotely fit the sound as a whole, or just completely collapse under their own weight due to the poorly chosen keyboards or drum patterns. While the intro track, "Mysteria Nocturna" doesn't mesh perfectly with the rest of Daemonolatria Hypnotica, it's a skillfully assembled industrial section. Ars Macabre do attempt to incorporate this array of unconventional sounds into their music on occasion, but I'd rather hear the record either drenched in these samples and noises or lacking them altogether. As of now, all it's doing is transforming violent, noisy, and half-melodic black metal into violent, noisy, and half melodic black metal with a few drum effects and unexpected sounds. Alternating between a crazed scream and a deeper bellowing growl, shared vocal duties between the two lone members of the band lends itself to their raw nature and proves to be one of the Italian band's most defining features. The drum programming is competent on the whole but has the tendency to become too consuming in the mix. It's done well, but just doesn't suit their sound perfectly. I imagine one of the advantages of having such a small band is the ability to realize your creative vision, right on down to the details that a lot of other bands skate by without examining further. If I was able to describe anything as "dark", Ars Macabre's basslines would earn that title. It's a more than welcome change from the treble-heavy approach too many other bands take.
As with so many bands focused on extremity, distinguishing between songs can be particularly difficult. Those that do stand out, stand tall. "Psycho Apocalypse", a 7:21 opus that shares a few similarities with near-legends, Dawn, should win over more than a few people, despite the odd choice to insert an eerie guitar/keyboard passage right in the middle of it. "Prolegomena of the Warfare State" is more of what I'm hoping the band goes in the direction of, if they were able to combine the sinister atmospheric part with the rest of their music without making the change feel so abrupt.
I like this. It's a solid piece of blistering black metal that'll hold you over and keep your attention when you let it. Personally though, I'd hold off until their next effort, which I predict will turn this one on it's head and elbow-drop it in the groin. They have the production know how, instrumental skill, and apparently they also have the subtle desire to create industrial/black metal. So Ars Macabre - learn how to effectively mix the two things you've proven you're good at, come back, and destroy us with some blasting industrial-influenced black metal.
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