Lethean Lament

Hailing from Rochester, NY, duo Mavradoxa  play a form of atmospheric black metal that would be right at home on Bindrune Recordings. It’s a woodsy, Agalloch rooted form of black metal akin to the likes of  Falls of Rauros, Alda, Wodensthrone and such. However, it does not mean its as good as those bands.

While Mavradoxa check all the boxes for the style; acoustic segues, raspy vocals, deliberate atmospheric pacing, occasional violins and clean vocals, long rambling songs etc (the four actual songs range from 11 to 18 minutes), the actual quality of the song writing never fully reels you into the autumnal hues or verdant foliage, despite a valiant effort. Maybe it’s the more doomy throes and  languid pace make everything drag on more (this is Hypnotic Dirge records after all), or maybe the songs are just not really that enthralling, but I’m not feeling this like many of their peers.

The 6 song, hour plus run time, requires your full attention, but the songs don’t keep it, even with a strong production. Case and point, opener (after intro “Cicadan”) “The Phantom Visages”, has a plodding, restrained first 8 or nine minutes and then tries to crescendo into a more urgent black metal gallop, but it has no real peak or climax or emotional grip that sinks into you. The album’s centerpiece, the almost 18 minute “Crimson Waves of Autumnal Flame”, wants so badly to lead your through the Fall forest, with some clean croons over delicate acoustics and some mid paced, proggy Agalloch-ish riffs, but again it never goes anywhere. I kept wanting the song to fully deliver and peak, but it never does. It comes sooooo close around 14 minutes in, gradually picking up. and teasing….. then back into mid paced meandering.

The duo wants to be deep and atmospheric, but instead it’s more meandering and unfulfilling. Thusly, the following long tracks the 15 minute “Across the Nival Grove” and  11 minute “From Fog” are left in the wake of unfulfillment, even with a nice little canter and great violin segment in the prior and solid little gallop to start the latter. More of these moments would have made the album far more memorable.

Hypnotic Dirge’s other release in this style, Obsidian Tongue‘s A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time , was a far more successful and memorable affair, but I’m glad the label continues to step out of their usual realms. With so many other options in the style, Mavradoxa , need to develop more song writing dynamics to compete, though there is some potential and skill here for improvement.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
November 29th, 2017


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