Five months ago, we visited the oneman-band of German Val Atra Niteris, and his sophomore full-length Extinct. In connection with this minor key infused funeral service, I came across the duo Ad Cinerem, where Val handles guitars, drums, bass and synth, while partner Hekjal does vocals in addition to more guitars.
The young duo from Dresden, about halfway between Berlin and Prague, have a flair for melodies and structures, and I instinctively knew I had to present Shadows of Doubt, the bands first album after a demo dropped in 2015, the year after their formation.
Into The Dark Realms Of Soul acts as a very calm acoustic intro before the title track thunder out of the loudspeakers and proves what they are made of. The band provide several possible inspirations and genre descriptions. The guys are influenced by funeral doom, black metal and ambient music. The music they play has elements from ultra-doomed black/death played in mid-tempo and lower pace with a strong whiff of funeral. Let's call it blackened funeral death/doom, shall we? The atmosphere is dejected and resigned, but also ominously bitter and disturbingly hateful. The structures of the songs are thoughtfully constructed and the music flows naturally through varied emotional moods.
Besides the Intro and Only Fragments Through The Twilight, a soaring ethereal interlude of just three minutes, the five songs holds nine minutes on average. Altogether almost 50 minutes. When the music doesn't seek out the most tranquil atmospheric landscapes of mourning underneath the weeping willows, heavy riffs casts their resounding echo, and thundering vocals growl and rasp their cursed message. Like tides and unstable rough weather, the music changes constantly with two guitars that in an impressive manner produce spiritless melancholy with harmonious patterns and comfortable melodies.
The sound is deliciously hypnotic, with booming sound. Bass and rhythm guitar resound darkly, proficient percussions sounds lifelike and the brighter tones of guitars float like an elegant but disillusioned lone swan on the reflective surface of the water after an unintentional but deadly discharge during last seasons duck-hunt. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the studio and production details, but the sound is dynamic (DR11), rich and comfortable, and suits the music perfectly.
EDIT 17.07.17: It turns out that Val Atra Niteris handled all the steps of the production him selves, and even made that gorgeous cover art. Impressive!
Shadows of Doubt is hardly a musical work capable of being described with just a poor vocabulary, but rather a dizzying journey through a merciless feeling of misery, hopelessness and disillusionment. The guitar's continuous ability to create beautiful hooks, and the clever changes of the music seem carefully planned down to the smallest detail. I nevertheless don't get any feeling of the music being calculated in any way. Every single coherent transition floats entirely naturally. Shadows of Doubt is a work that ooze of quality in every aspect. Including the most important of all. The writing process.
Ad Cinerem, on their very debut, is on a level that can take on fairly comparable genre-related Brits like Eye of Solitude and Finns like Kuolemanlaakso for comparison. The album might not have the very last icing on the cake, a factor X needed to gain jackpot and collect first price, but the band doesn't have to grasp at straws to get their foot in the door to the elite series, where they no doubt belong. Shadows of Doubt is a very pleasurable achievement that will surely appeal to fans of beautiful and dark gloominess. Rating: 5+
This is a short announcement:
The album Enfold Darkness - Adversary Omnipotent was reviewed almost three weeks ago, with wrong release date.
The album was released today.
Otherwise, reviews are scarce these days. As long as the weather permits it, outdoor activities are prioritized,
but a new review is brewing, and it'll hopefully be published before the end of the week.