Sear Bliss
The Arcane Odyssey

This is Sear Bliss’ sixth full-length album and first on Candlelight. Extreme black metal with a classical flair. Once again produced by Viktor Scheer, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. This time Viktor has gotten a deeper richer sound with more bottom end and the drums are much more resonant. The horns truly stand out, even against the bass drum. More polished does not mean the loss of their raw edge. The artwork was once again painted by József Tari, depicting the saga of the “Hadak Útja” (The Road Of The Warriors), a legend from ancient Hungarian mythology. Once again the detail is excellent, and suffers from such a small size. Longtime guitarist Csaba Csejtei has departed, taking the corpsepaint with him. New guitarist Péter Kovács fits in well.

After Glory and Perdition, my expectations were very high. On first listen I was disappointed. Is something missing? The short four-minute “Thorns of Deception” illustrates the something missing illusion, more streamlined and straightforward with a bit of a grove. Are they leaving true grim behind? They certainly have the talent, and it is in evidence on this song but I prefer their long serpentine compositions with ample room for expressive devotion to darkness. Luckily we get some of that as well. By the third listen this afternoon I had changed my mind. This band is the total package. True black metal art crafted over the course of many months by talented musicians, not belted out over a few beers in an hour in their own private basement studio.

Most bands mellow with age; Sear Bliss has once again ramped up the intensity. Drums and vocals provide the bitter edge and horns permeate the song, oozing grandeur. The bass guitar is loud and significant. Recurring melodies from the horns tie together the harsher elements and the horns and drums work very well together. The vocals are a bit lower, and rougher than ever. Quiet moments add to the majestic flair and make the horns even more impressive, for example on “Somewhere.” Synthesized atmosphere is a thing of the past, now that role has been turned over to the other instruments. Keyboards now fill in where needed instead of dictate. “A Deathly Illusion” starts off with nearly two minutes of build up to harshness, giving way to a moody middle section. “Blood on the Milky Way” is a long song that harkens back to Grand Destiny with a faster lighter composition and beautiful guitar solos. “Omen of Doom” is slow and heavy. “The Venomous Grace” has an icy cold intro.

Sear Bliss has been on my short list of favorite bands for many years and each album has stood the test of time. I spend a lot of time listening intently to mediocre music, one of the bands I turn to when I need a break is Sear Bliss, and it puts other bands in perspective. I gave each of the last three full lengths top ten honors, with Glory and Perdition getting my vote for album of the year. After quite a few spins of The Arcane Odyssey, a top ten placing is all but assured. This disc is a slight disappointment, emphasis on slight, but only because I expected too much. Definitely one of the mandatory releases of 2007.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
November 2nd, 2007

Comments

  1. Commented by: Dimaension X

    I really enjoyed this one. The production finally brings out the best of the music – clear and powerful.


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