Kadenzza – Into the Oriental Phantasma – 4.5/5
Metal Archives may describe this solo artist’s work as Symphonic Black, but it simply doesn’t fit. Yes, there’s the dark aggressive tone, and certainly the symphonic aspect, but what’s been done with it is as far from the rest of the genre as you could imagine. It’s altogether too beautiful, too epically majestic in the way it meanders from its ambient-like passages to more frightening, cold mechanical aggressive peaks. The neo-classical solo’s and industrial overtones, the doom-like traipsing and the gloomy gothic organs, simply calling them ‘Symphonic Black’ feels like its doing it a disservice. If most Black Metal was to take the view of the victim being tormented, this music takes it from the aspect of the tormentor; carrying out your daily tasks with sick and twisted delight in the hellishly grandiloquent wasteland you proudly call home.
The drumming is all done by machine, but programmed rather effectively. The abuse of ‘super-blast-beats’ at impossible speeds never occurs here, and everything feels as though it is at a plausible pace, even if at times relatively complex. The mechanical tone which is often an unfortunate consequence in most artists music actually works to his advantage here, lending a cold, unnatural, industrial feel as it continues on, creating a distinct notion of something being amiss, contrasting subtly with the warmth of the soaring ambient passages. The vocals emerge where required to lend something thick and howling, distinctly demonic with a sufficiently varied pitch so as to remain twisted without being overused.
The guitar work is unquestionably neo-classical in its style, easily comparable to those who utilise its upbeat tempo in power metal, and his abilities in this regard are incredible. Not necessarily in his speed, or even the melodies he creates – often utilising relatively simplistic, upbeat patterns to great effect – but rather in how he manages to compose them in such a way as to feel aggressive and juxtaposed to the slow melancholy of the synth work and darker passages without ever feeling jarring or out of place. The synths too deserve mention as a force to assist the neo-classical feel of the proceedings in a completely different manner, lending a superb variety in number of styles, from gentle piano interludes, synthetic atmospheric chords and gothic organs.
Everything progresses onwards, there is no ‘looking back’ to repeated chorus lines, but rather a repetition of the style or feel of a past passage. Each aspect is somehow linked to the others, the ambient linked to the guitars by the neo-classical tone; the guitars linked to the blackened interludes by pace and aggression; and the blackened interludes linked to the ambient passages by atmosphere, and through this a ‘middle ground’ emerges that is not only of an entirely unique tone, but is progressively explored for this albums entire duration. This genuinely is a superb release from an artist who seems to despise convention, and whilst he’s torn it to shreds, what he’s replaced it with feels so naturally fitting that it fails to feel bizarre.