Release DetailsLABEL Earache
RELEASED ON 3/22/2004
posted on 4/2004 By:
I never did get around to hearing the debut The Infinite, so I was expectant to hear an album that has guest appearances by members of Arcturus, Testament, Dragonlord, Borknagar and Spiral Architect had to offer. I was not let down.
Bearing the flag of black metal new direction that Emperor forged and the likes of Satyricon, Solefald and Ephel Duath continue, Lunaris ignore black metal paradigms with elements of death metal, progressive metal, and sheer musical audacity that highlights the individual members' talents while retaining a cohesive sounds (unlike guest musician Eric Peterson’s Dragonlord). A challenging listen, Cyclic is both complex and at times scathing; its progressive nature is ripe with black metal's innate nihilism, while its artistic flourish is always taking the front seat. Shifting from uncomfortable rhythms and tempos (“I.A.D” & “When it Ends””), to downright ballistic assaults (“Lesson in Futility”), symphonic beauty (“Casualties of Piece”) to lurching atmospherics (“Mot Natt”), and menacing death metal (“Cyclic”), the musicianship on display never comes across as overbearing or forced, despite the songs' variation.
The experimentation contained on Cyclic, while certainly boundary pushing, is well within the constraints of black metal, no Arcturus or Rakoth like quirkiness, as expertly shown on the start of “Slaves of Oblivion”. What could have careened into progressive overload after delicate synths and jazzy bass lines instead explodes with typical Norwegian grandiosity that reminded me somewhat of Fleurety’s mind altering take on black metal. Each song has something to offer, with differing styles, albeit with black metal roots pulsing malevolently below, and with the variety of the songwriting and the guest musicians, it almost plays like a compilation album. The album highlight “Casualties of Piece”, simply trips, after a peaceful introduction, and the track stands out due to a slightly less experimental approach and deft ivory work overlaying a vitriolic blastbeat. Even when it does take an unexpected twist, it’s not overdone or so off-kilter it’s distracting. Not one track on the album warrants skipping, as you know you will miss some unexpected bridge, riff or solo that requires active listening and undivided attention. I almost made that mistake with the superbly labyrinthine “Existence Unveiled” and hypnotically 70’s vibe of the lengthy “Altruismens Gravol”.
The production is solid if not as ground breaking as the music itself, but it allows all the musicians (both full time and guest) to showcase their obvious skills. Elitist has a knack for signing envelope pushing acts (Rakoth, Wolverine, Farmakon), and Lunaris is quite simply the cream of the crop. Innovative, adventurous and yet still within black metal’s caustic umbrella, Lunaris are the future of black metal.
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