De Oppresso Liber
posted on 9/2008 By:
I’m not the pickiest when it comes to symphonic black metal. If it employs the keyboards well enough into the mix (that is, not blaring and obnoxious like a giddy schoolgirl learning piano on a Casio keyboard), and still manages to have that “metal edge” to the drums and guitars (that is, not completely buried by pillows and blankets from said giddy schoolgirl’s slumber party), well, I’m a happy camper. There’s something tricky about reviewing an album like De Oppresso Liber because while it is competently performed, it is an album that is so safe that it hides in bomb shelters while corpsepainted megaton warheads labeled Nachtmystium and Sigh pepper the landscape, completely shaping black metal’s future.
Sothis handles their instruments really well. I can hear everything clear as a whistle. The guitars are scratchy, the bass thumps along, the drums bounce and batter around without getting particularly tiresome, the vocals are raspy, and the keyboard tinges in with its light melodies and beaming brightness. I gotta hand it to these guys, they can really pull off the Norwegian sound with the best…of…them. Wait.
That’s it! I’ve got it.
Sothis is Dimmu Borgir.
Truly, I haven’t heard symphonic black metal like this since Spiritual Black Dimensions, and it’s probably the template by which this album was created. It’s a complement and a curse in one. Dross probably took drum lessons from Tjodalv, Asperia is arguably Mustis with a vagina, but perhaps the most obvious comparison is that of Drogoth and Shagrath, with an incessant rasp akin to the In Sorte Diaboli sound. I want to like this SO much, considering I really like Dimmu Borgir, but goddamn! It’s like asking me to put on blinders and trot through this record like I’ve completely forgotten about another band’s extensive legacy in popularizing black metal.
It’s not that I can’t congratulate Sothis on their technical expertise, and in the short and sweet instances that they deviate from the Dimmu formula (i.e. memorable and sepulchral guitar solos, especially those in the middle of “Beneath a Boiling Black Sky” and “Obsidian Throne”), Sothis is a band I could probably come to love. As they are, they end up being nothing more than old-hat, which is a shame. In a time when black metal is more progressive than ever, Sothis is kinda like a last-placement runner at the Olympics. You know that there’s a lot of talent and effort that went into their journey towards the top, and they’re still better than leagues of people that tried out to be in their position. But the fact remains they still got last place amidst the big boys of black metal.
Tough break - but I am optimistically looking forward to the next Sothis album, and that’s saying something.
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