Sear Bliss
Letters From the Edge

Considering my love of all things symphonic, especially symphonic black metal and even more especially my love of French horns and brass, you’d think i’d be more aware of Hungary’s Sear Bliss. I have heard the name whispered on the lips of the elite  with 2004s Glory and Perdition often mentioned as a classic black metal album. However, I only own Forsaken Symphony, and frankly, purchased it in a bargain bin because I knew the name, and haven’t given it any real listens.

So reviewing the band’s 8th album since their inception in 1993,  as my first real exposure to the band is probably not a good idea, but here goes.

From what I can gather, apparently the band is slightly less black metal now, more experimental, and has a more mid paced  patient gait. There are still  a few black metal moments, and the blackened croaks are still present, but the overall mood and pace is surprisingly restrained, steady and tempered. The good news is, the brass and orchestral elements are still pretty focal, even if more celestial, and the trombone taking more of the center stage than before.

After the intro, “Forbidden Doors” heralds the band’s 6 year layoff with triumphant menace with some crisp,  blackened furor, but the moody brass introduction about 4 and a half minutes in signals the band’s regal roots. Then “Seven Springs” has a lovely melodic canter and sparkle and yet another stern, austere brass break 4 or so minute in.

Then the album starts to get a little more restrained with the mid paced mach of “A Mirror in the Forest” and more ambient “Abandoned Peaks”, with a regal first few minutes that could be a Summoning song. Then you get a bit of a head scratcher where a sort of post rock jangle of “Haven” comes into play and “The Main Divide” also comes across as pretty main stream paced track, even with the brass. In fact, when you throw in the following slower ten minute number “Leaving Forever Land”, its a bit of a late album lull.

The album closes with an interlude  in “At the Gates of Lethe” and then “Shroud” but it  continues the album’s late run of less rousing and more celestial, spacey, moodier, atmospheres which simply don’t grab me as much as the albums earlier two of three tracks, and even introduces some clean post rock vocals, which just done jive at all.

In re listening to Forsaken Symphony, even with its cosmos based tracks (“My Journey to the Stars”), its clear Sear Bliss, while at times delivers some awesome moments moments of brass laden majesty , have lost some of their black metal bite and are spreading their wings even more. But it’s yet to be seen if the band will continue to develop or if they will ever return to their more pagan and bloody roots which  are more befitting of the still brilliant brass elements.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by E. Thomas
July 30th, 2018

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