Chaostar – The Underworld – 4.5/5
Opening with the title track, split into four epic parts and spanning half an hour it manages to maintain a constant flow, telling each segment of the story it proves the artists capabilities and remains a major highlight. The backing bears resemblance to ‘Adagio’s interludes in the album of the same name, or ‘Crimfall’ if they dropped the folk and went gothic, straying into more bombastic territory, to elegant and smooth piano lines. Combined with liberal use of organs, flutes, synths, violins and cello’s - each carefully arranged and integrated in a seamless manner without ever feeling overused to present a rich orchestral tone to the proceedings - they display a clear structure to the track.
Despite this, it is the vocals that truly elevate this work, each vocalist performing superbly, particularly the lone female responsible for her variety of ethereal soprano, soft clean vocals and occasionally the witch-like evil cackling she lends to the proceedings. In addition to this are mid-ranged growls, bombastic - almost spoken - lines, clean mid-ranged male vocals, baritone and tenor vocals, all emerging from multiple vocalists, woven together often to form an argumentative tone as each of them is vying for control of the track, to emerge dominant.
There is such a variety of pace, tones and styles that it is truly breathtaking; from the slow lonesome despair filled piano line in ‘Misery’s King,’ with the lament of the clean male vocalist to the all out theatrical battle in ‘Underworld Act II,’ seamlessly transitioning between pieces as it maintains the flow between each section. My only real criticism being that whilst the use of volume to emphasise the tone is appreciable, becomes too quiet to be easily heard on the latter of the two tracks. What were ‘septicflesh’ doing after their incredible “Sumerian Demons?” Working on an album that could top it of course! A spectacular performance from musicians I would not have expected such a style from.
Highlights: Underworld Act I, Underworld Act II, Misery’s King