Released: 2010, Candlelight
It’s been a long, long time since I checked out these guys. Since, back in 1996 when I bought the debut album, MOON IN SCORPIO in fact. I have no idea why I didn’t follow these more closely, but after hearing PHANTASMAGORIA, I certainly should have!
Limbonic Art, in my mind, have always suffered from a bit of a lack of identity. There are this one-man band, two-man band, on again, off-again, project with session people, it seems more like a studio project than a fully-fledged touring act. I know that is not completely the case, but when you ask people about Black Metal how many times are Limbonic Art the first name out of their mouths?
That’s a shame because the music is really good and hopefull PHANTASMAGORIA will turn people around. However long-time member Morpheus has jumped ship after a short-lived ‘re-union’, so could this be the bands swan-song? I hope not.
This is a big, painful record and I mean that in a good way. A dozen tracks at well over two hours long with many tracks in the 6-8 minute range tracks. With long tracks like this, there is a lot of diversity in the compositions and arrangements. There are lots of atmospheric interludes and so on with swirling keyboards but for the most part the songs just dive right into fast Black Metal. It’s pretty relentless and unforgiving until the middle parts of the songs where it slows down, becomes a bit more symphonic, laced with subtler musical ideas.
When I use the word ‘symphonic’ I certainly don’t mean the kind of ‘Cradle of Dimmu’ Disney-esque sound-track music you hear many Black Metal bands employ. These are generally more, ambient droning keyboards, not violins, brass and woodwinds. Vocally, Daemon sings in a bit of a higher register but occasionally employs some gruffer roars to mix things up a bit.
PHANTASMAGORIA is a moderately apocalyptic piece of work, certainly drawing back on the inspiration of emotion of some of the earlier days of Norwegian Black Metal. It’s a pretty good record. I know that doesn’t sound like a glowing endorsement, but for fans of the genre it’s decent and worth checking out. For fans of the band, I don’t have enough experience with their back-catalogue to give an honest comparison, this album has inspired me to go back and buy some of the others.