Reviewed: September, 2019
Released: 2019, SCHWARZDORN PRODUCTION
Reviewer: Jesse Edwards
Formicarius apparently play symphonic black metal in the vein of Emperor, Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, and Immortal. I’d not heard of the band before, but they have recruited some familiar names in Sakis Tolis (Rotting Christ), the violin playing of Nicholas Miller of Aklash, and the drumming of Kevin Paradis (Benighted). Formicarius have also turned to Parlour Studios (Dimmu Borgir, Samael, Venomous Concept etc) for the final mix and mastering, so it would seem that we are in for a treat!
The album bursts into life with an exhilarating riff straight out of the Emperor song book, which filled me with excited anticipation of what was to come. Sadly, the vocals sound like lead vocalist Lord Saunders has undergone a recent tracheotomy.
Track two lowers the tempo briefly with a slow and melodic introduction before resuming the previous blast beat affair, and I suspected this would be the running theme of the album. (Track 2: clean female vocal, -10 black metal points for you, Formicarius.)
By the end of the second song it was clear that we were heading straight to the heart of Dani Filth’s mausoleum, and with that dawning realisation, I pierced the lid of my macaroni cheese and prepared for a tedious onslaught of genre blending tripe.
The songs continue in a rather uninspired fashion; if you’re going to do the melodic black metal thing, you need some stand out melodies, you need some hooks, you need some owls! Nothing within the next 5 tracks stood out to me as especially interesting or catchy.
The production on the album is nothing less than you’d expect from Parlour Studios, but the vocals contain absolutely zero dynamic range. Lord Saunders continues to churn out some of the most uninspired vocal croaks I’ve ever heard—he really is one croaky toad—and it seems the engineers did what they could.
The keyboards sound distant, not once taking centre stage, and I feel like the songs could have benefited from a stronger keyboard presence to add a bit of variety. Most of the songs in the album sound very similar in style and construction, so it would have been nice to mix things up now and again with some grand piano interludes.
There’s a slow, yet brooding, woodwind section in the middle of the final track which actually piqued my interest, but the band failed to progress the idea in any direction, suddenly reverting to factory settings with another uninspired tremolo-picked riff.
My rating of this album could seem slightly harsh, and it ticks the boxes for fans of Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth, but even then, I think you would find this album as boring and uninspired as I did.
Not for fans of Emperor and Immortal, as the press pack would suggest!