Azrael
Into Shadows Act II: Through Horned Shadows Glimpse

Just like the band finding no need for lyrics or song titles, this music defies words of description. You simply have to hear it for yourself. The instrumentation is often excellent and those sections that the metal-in-the-narrow-sense fan would recognize are well done but simply not very important in the overall makeup of the album. This album is the second full length for U.S. based Azrael, loosely considered (musically) a black metal band. Philosophically there is no doubt. They incorporate acoustic guitar and strings, borrowing from ambient, classical, progressive rock and jazz fusion. This two man band defies easy description, bringing to mind Negura Bunget, but only in an emotionally responsive way.

On first listen the instrumental/ ambient aspects dominated a little too much for me, usually not a favorite, and I’ll give Leviathan as my benchmark for perfect black metal/ ambient mix. After a few spins I found, poor sound not impeding, that I was mesmerized somewhat into enjoying trying to follow the music. There are seven nameless tracks, nothing on the sleeve and nothing on the accompanying flyer. The flyer uses adjectives like wind swept and expressionistic and ominous, which help little is giving one an understanding of the music. I like that there are no words at all. The screaming adds intensity, but really sounds no different than many bands that use this style with actual words. These guys just realized it was the vocal style that mattered not the indecipherable words. The vocals also serve as the link that binds all the various sounds together. I am not absolutely positive, but I don’t thing there are any keyboards on this album, I think it is all done with real instruments. (I know a keyboard is real, but you get what I mean). What really impresses me the most is the ability these guys have to write chaotic unpredictable music that is tightly structured and played with no sloppiness. Much of it is predictable but often time changes appear unprovoked and different styles pop in and out, but in the end it all meshes rather seamlessly. That is the more verbose way of stating what I said above about reminding me of Negura Bunget on the emotional level.

Track three is a musical interlude that has a slow mesmerizing quality and a great bass tone, but pardon my ignorance, I do not know what instrument creates such tones. Incorporate this into other songs in the future. Track six incorporates acoustic guitar and it is very well played. The last track is an all acoustic guitar outro. Minnesota’s angel of death still has one more album to release through Moribund, I’m looking forward to Act III.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
October 20th, 2004

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