I will state upfront I’m not the biggest extreme metal fan in the world; most of it is overblown attempts at auditory bombast which has nothing do to with music. I will also freely admit that a lot of extreme music focuses on the dark side of life, both physical and spiritual.
Some metal heads claim that they don’t “take the lyrics seriously”, well that may be but when your lyrics focus on disparaging the Lord Jesus Christ; I take that seriously. Even if your musical aspirations are worthy, (old school Merciful Fate for example) I can’t get past the lyrical statements (in the case of Fate after I read the lyrics to The Oath I was done), this is my choice and my conviction.
Symphonic Black Metal is a musical style that I really could get into except for the lyrical content, i.e. Dimmu Borgir. The better bands are well produced and they sound epic, it is rather evident that they take their craft seriously. Several of these bands could be very intriguing, except for that lyric thing.
Well I have here is an album from
Norway’s Grave Declaration entitled
When Dying Souls Scream Praise. This is pure Symphonic Black Metal (or UnBlack
if you prefer) with a huge helping of musical influence from the aforementioned
Dimmu Borgir. A fellow writer who loves this style has compared this released
to Dimmu Borgir, Thyrane and Old Man’s Child. (Thanks MJL!)
The keys soar and the double bass rips throughout, with some fantastic guitar playing. Production values are fantastic as every instrument is spaced well in the mix. The layers of guitar are excellent as they completely power this musical assault along.
Thor Georg Buer is the main brain child and song writer, yes Thor formerly of Antestor. The melodies are strong and memorable, not in a verse chorus way but in developing a string of musical thought. Tracks such as the In The Throne Room are layered with depth and thought. The interplay of guitar and keyboard is strong. Buer provides the vocals and programming aspects as well, which makes me think that the drums are programmed.
Until I actually looked at the cut sheet I would’ve never guessed that the drums are programmed. They sound excellent, I could be wrong but a drummer is not listed on the performers list. Thor’s vocal is harsh and cuts through the musical din. Kristian Larsen adds to the guitar assault and Pal Haugland delivers pounding bass guitar.
Make no mistake the lyrical concepts delivered here are nearly worshipful in their tone and demeanor. They are strong without being trite or clichéd but well thought out. Album opener Change of Heart is full on ball busting musically with a worshipful prayer as the lyrics. The entire album is this way, which just pushes this over the top as far as I’m concerned. Lyrically articulate and heartfelt but not full of sentimentalism or syrupy clichés.