Release DetailsLABEL Burning Star Records
RELEASED ON 10/1/2006
posted on 6/2007 By:
I’ve been an off and on listener of melodic and symphonic black metal ever since I started listening to metal, and while I’m always ready to welcome an innovative album with open arms, more often than not more contemporary acts are resounding let downs. The danger is especially strong in the melodic black metal genre, and while many acts find innovative ways to dodge the danger of unexciting repetition, Winterhorde falls victim in failing to show an adequate difference between imitation and inspiration. Granted the difference can sometimes be a fine line, but Nebula consistently gives that resounding feeling of déjà vu that tends to accompany bands whose worship of their influences is pretty damn apparent.
The most obvious comparison that can be made is to Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth. Actually it’s a bit too obvious, but there are also tinges of melodic death metal that pop up here and there. While this does add a bit of diversity to their sound, they still sound too close to bands like Catamenia for comfort. Sometimes really strong songwriting can make up for a lack of originality, but many of the musical ideas, except for the harmony lines, seem under developed, or at the very least a bit anticlimactic. Songs like “The Fall of Angelic Dominion” and “The Earth is an Altar” both head in the right direction, but suffer from a bad tendency to plateau early, leaving the listener craving just a bit more instead of reaching any impressive apexes. More or less the biggest problem is predictability. Even when there is a decent amount of contrast within the songs, I can’t quite shake the feeling that there’s something a bit formulaic going considering most of the stylistic shifts occur in predictable patterns
Not that I have any personal vendetta against the use of clean vocals, but Nebula really could have done without them entirely; the same gripe can be made for Winterhorde’s use of keyboards and synthesized strings. Rather than these elements adding compositional depth and subtlety to the songs, they end up coming off a bit over embellished, teetering more towards the realm of agitating than anything truly auspicious. The more symphonic elements within songs like “An Ode to Man”, the entirety of “Nebula the Ultimate Redemption”, “Propaganda”, and “Post Apocalypse Morning” all seem to be included more in the worry of committing a stylistic faux pas over their omission than for any real rhyme or reason. To their credit though, the harmony lines are fairly interesting, but their attempts at more aggressive passages always end up overshadowed and ultimately, stifled.
I’m certain most ardent fans of the genre will welcome this addition to their collections with open arms, but the rest of us aren’t really going to give a damn. I’m sure Nebula would be much more impressive if I hadn’t heard this done so many times before, but the problem is I have, there are many more innovative and interesting examples of black metal out there. Nebula is by no means a terrible album, just not exactly interesting enough to really stand out.
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