Spinefarm Records&Candlelight Records, 07.07.17
With Spectre Abysm, Limbonic Art for natural reasons puts large parts of its horn and string section on the shelf. Even before keyboard wizard Morfeus left the band between Legacy of Evil (2007) and Phantasmagoria (2010) due to disagreements, a colourful synth-register had lost some of its extravagant glow. On Phantasmagoria, band-founder Daemon was left alone, and the symphonics was reduced to a more anonymous ambient back wall than ever.
Time was ripe to re-evaluate the concept, think differently and take new measures. With old means.
Limbonic Art throws its flamboyant dramaturgical synthetic coat and appear as a semi-human figure that has shed its skin. With a carnival of orchestral instruments as distraction, an obscure ghoul has long exercised its incantations secretly. Something inhumane, and according to unreliable witnesses predator-like, has for long merged with the darkness in the shadows of this shimmering firework. But tonight we venture into the shadows, beyond flashing astral constellations and the majestic ethos of the Middle Ages.
The song A Black Sphere of Serenity from Phantasmagoria can work as a link between past and present. A seven-year-old clue that finally leads somewhere. When now unravelling the thread, one come across a gloomy archaic basement full of old obscure literature, glass jars with unmentionable body parts on spirits and flasks with all kinds of chemical solutions. Under the cover of being a shut down pharmacy, black magic is pursued without the slightest hint of good intentions.
Spectre Abysm consists of dark and moody black metal with a sharp and serrated outer, and malignant alchemy behind the façade. Since the time whence the moon was in the Scorpio more than twenty years ago, an occult network has spread and increased its perilous knowledge. The cover alone indicates that evil spirits are in the wind. The ominous darkness is sometimes so theatrically realistic that I almost have to look over my shoulders. If my controversial revelations of devilish activities are rooted in reality, much is at stake. And I have reason to fear for my life.
There are still symphonic ingredients incorporated, but they are limited to enhancing the atmosphere wherever it's befitted, rather than being a full-fledged ingredient. The track Disciplina Arcani, which is as much a moody collage as song in the correct sense of the word, is a good example of adequate use of synth. The same song is also a rich example of Daemon's multifaceted vocal styles. “Clandestine rites are held”, Daemon screeches forth with a rasping voice, “accompanied by serpents, the stars and the moon”. Here and there screams and shrieks sounds like a bloodthirsty Gollum with long claws, sharp fangs and an insatiable, bloodthirsty lust for killing. The man otherwise has a large repertoire of different voices to pick from, and it feels almost as if at least half a dozen guest vocalists appear along the way.
As mentioned, the flaming chill of phonetic anger sometimes sounds rather realistically misanthropic. A line can be drawn back to early Limbonic Art, as black contempt, hovering eccentric melodies and symphonic ingredients still creates a thick and dense mood, but evolution has brought the band far from its roots. Spectre Abysm doesn't have the same innovative signature as the band's early works, but the quality of 47 minutes enveloped in burning flames is still unmistakable. With lots of variation, albeit without forsaking an overall atmosphere, every single moment might not appeal just as much, but many exquisite sequences lie latent in the depths. Without comparing directly with past achievements, Spectre Abysm is a highly solid album. Rating: 4+
Considering the big labels backing this release, the promotion in form of previews are surprisingly feeble. I'm not fond of linking to unofficial sources. Thus I advise you to search on YouTube and see what you can find on your own.