Release DetailsLABEL Numen Malevolum Barathri
RELEASED ON 9/17/2007
The Divine Tragedy
posted on 2/2008 By:
Avichi's style of black metal should appeal to those who appreciate what bands like Deathspell Omega, Mortuus, Glorior Belli, and their ilk are doing these days. Simplistic, religious, trance-inducing bleakness is what's on tap here, and it's mostly effective. But there's still some work to be done if Avichi wants to call the above bands peers.
Mainman Aemonael handles the guitars and vocals, leaving session musician Xaphar to the percussion. Aemonael used to be the guitarist for Nachtmystium, but you wouldn't know it by listening to The Divine Tragedy. It says something about the variety in the USBM scene, and Aemonael's skill, that a guitarist of one Illinois black metal band can leave and start another Illinois black metal band that sounds worlds apart.
This album sounds like the soundtrack to either a meditation session or a black mass. Intro "Entrance to God" sets a dark and mystic religious tone, opening with a gong and slowly building tension with sparse percussion until "Purification Within the Eighth Sphere" breaks the stillness and launches into a repetitive riff and Aemonael's coarse howl. The production is fitting, not burying the vocals in the mix but still keeping the guitar at the front and center. The performances are tight. The Divine Tragedy winds down with the gong again in the five and a half minute "Separation From the Life Principle" to bring the proceedings to a close. Avichi has certainly succeeded in creating an album that feels like an real experience, like something over and above a collection of songs. The focus is on atmosphere and mood, painting in broad strokes rather than detailed ones to push the listener towards catharsis.
The problem, though, is that beneath all the smoke, and supporting the metaphysical and spiritual reflections, remains a mere collection of songs that don't quite pull their weight to make this experience as cathartic as I think it could be. Mortuus and DsO manage a sound that is both very emotionally provocative and musically engaging, and it's the latter that's missing from The Divine Tragedy sometimes. There are some highlights. "Messianic Deliverance" and "Phallic Insinuation" pack a one-two punch of simple guitar patterns done right, aggressive tracks that harness their simplicity and find that je ne sais quoi that makes this sort of black metal so attractive. On top of the musical win, these tracks truly play a part in the album's religious theme. Another great track is "Taedium Vitae", with a cool guitar line and nearly groovy feel.
But these are exceptions; the larger part of The Divine Tragedy is black metal heavy on the sauce but lacking any real meat on its bones. The music alone isn't enough to match the far-reaching goals of the thematic intent. However, for a debut, this is a job well done, and I look forward to hearing greater things from Avichi in the future.
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