Dessiderium
Aria

“Good Things Come to Those Who Wait” – Lady Mary Montgomerie Currie.

I’m not sure there is a more apt proverb than the above one when it comes to Dessiderium, (loosely meaning ‘an ardent desire or longing for something lost’), the solo project from Alex Haddad, also the guitarist/vocalist for tech-death metallers Arkaik. Both for the project overall, and the project’s fourth aptly named album, Aria (Italian for ‘air’, but in music, means ‘song’ or ‘melody’), as he patiently self-released, three pretty unheralded albums prior to getting picked up by The Artisan Era, and its fitting for the album itself, which with 15-minute opener “White Morning in a World She Knows” certainly makes you wait for the good stuff.

And that good stuff (after a lengthy acoustic, instrumental opening few minutes), is some terrific, modern, solo laden, progressive and ambitious melodic death/black metal that melds the light and dark hues of early Opeth or Rivers of Nihil (minus the saxophone) with the more clinical, shreddy, melodic stylings of his other band as well as label mates like Inferi, etc. AND then adds some wondrous orchestration to the mix that has a bit of an Aquilus (though more death metal than black metal) or Scholomance hue and you get a phenomenal album that, like the recent Aquilus album is a challenging listen and review.

Though not as overblown and fundamentally classical music based as Aquilus, Aria has the same reliance on super long, developed, orchestral-laden, varied songs that contain mini songs within each one. The 5 songs on Aria are all 9 minutes or longer, with the aforementioned opener being over 15 minutes, a bold choice for an album opener. And when it does get going, it really gets going. The first few minutes are more unstructured, busy stuttering moments that really don’t gel or make a great first impression (also where I get the Scholomance vibe). But around 7 minutes in, it settles in with some breezy, melodic chord progressions and clean vocals that really grabbed my attention and transitioned into a lovely string-laden segment and made me buckle down for the next 4 lengthy songs as I felt something special coming.

The 11-minute standout “Pale”, gets to it more quickly with Haddad’s clean singing (he has an early Akerfeldt timbre to his voice) over an acoustic blast beat before exploding with a fierce, melodic, blackened blast, throaty rasps, and then a combination of abso-fucking-lutely everything. I even think there even a flute or some woodwind instruments in there? And it’s stunning in its gorgeously chaotic beauty and as engaging as any 11-minute sing I’ve heard recently.

The 14-minute title track comes out of the gate as a clearly Opeth-inspired number, with some gruffer vocals and more laid-back sway and atmospheres rendered with some lovely shimmering strings. The halfway point delivers a gorgeous orchestral bridge and then some even more mellow,  Opeth-ian vibes in the song’s latter stages where Haddad really opens up his clean pipes.

“Moon Lust Delerium” follows the preceding track’s relative mellowness with the album’s most virile track, with blistering, opening symphonic blackened majesty and shrill, almost Liturgy-esque layered riffs that deliver the album most melodic but urgent moments. “The Percussion Complex” ends the album with a heavily orchestral number that features an enjoyable early song waltz-y moment before an uplifting vocal arrangement and the album’s most ‘pleasant’ number, showing there’s compositional variety here, not just talent and skill.

Fans of any band I mentioned above should immediately seek this out as well as fans of those super extreme kitchen sink bands (though not quite as full-on intense)  like Maladie or Ne Obliviscaris as Aria has come in at the end of the year and royally fucked up my usually very structured and rigid top 10. Thanks a bunch.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 20th, 2021

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