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Released: 1997, Season of Mist
Reviewer: Nathan Robinson
I know…this album was released a while ago. But I just got it and I'm sure you don't have it, so read on…
At The Gates fans may well remember good ol' Alf Svensson, guitar master who played on Gardens of Grief, The Red in the Sky is Ours, and With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness. Well you may not know this, but he has continued to write music for his solo project Oxiplegatz. Sidreal Journey is his third and best release thus far. The album contains one continuous song, running almost 42 minutes, but marked with track numbers for ease of playing. Alf says Sidreal Journey "is the story of a race of beings driven into exile by the threat of a black hole which is about to engulf their planet. Left with no choice they set off to find another home, somewhere in the unknown universe..." The music is complex and very strange. He has tried very hard to create a purely solo album without any influences. Alf plays everything on this album, and performs all of the male vocals (both clean and death) as well. Sidreal Journey sounds like a mixture of death metal, black metal, opera and classical, and combines male and female vocals to produce some very eclectic music. There are loads of keyboards, which may appeal to Nocturnus fans. Yes, you could definitely call Oxiplegatz "space metal". And the female vocals are plentiful too, which is the highpoint of the album.
The story is very interesting and well written. The lyrics are made up of parts of the story. And the story lines not sung nor spoken are left for the listener to read between "verses". One thing that I noticed is…after a "verse", if you keep reading the story at a normal pace, you will end up at the next "verse" right when the vocals for the next "verse" kick in…like it was specifically written that way to keep a constant and natural flow. The musicianship is rock solid, with some riffs resembling old At The Gates material. The vocals are also brought forth effectively and with conviction. Sidreal Journey is very atmospheric and spiritual too, with just enough aggression to quench that metallic thirst.
The production of the album is pretty weird, and leaves a little more to be desired. And I'm not sure if a drum machine was used on this album, but the drums sound a little too electronic. But overall, this is a great album. It takes a while to get used to this type of music, and I recommend this for open-minded metallers who aren't afraid of experimental music. Sidreal Journey is very unique and original, and I look forward to another album from Alf!
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