Review Summary: An average attempt at Ambient Black Metal, with some interesting moments, and some embarrassing ones.
Sometimes it’s really hard to decide whether you think an album is good or whether it is terrible. At some points during the album, you will almost cry, while other times you will be in a trance. While there are very few albums which sort of put you on the fence between genius and insanity, the ones which do will really make you think about and dissect what you are listening to. I guess what I’m getting at here is that a side project of Leviathan’s mastermind Wrest, entitled Lurker Of Chalice, has released one such album. Part evil genius and part blabbering lunatic, Wrest shows both sides of his style of music, the side which is dead serious and really, really enthralling, and the other side which is sort of monotonous and disorganized.
So, Lurker Of Chalice’s self-titled album Lurker Of Chalice
is a kind of controlled train wreck musically. It, in theory, is an attempt at making a dark, ambient metal side project. In practice, it achieves that feeling for a decent portion of the album and sounds pretty good, but at other points it really throws the listener off with awkward passages, riffs, or noises. However, these parts do not put a damper on the good portions of the album, which will linger in your subconscious for a while.
What Lurker Of Chalice is getting at with this album is like half Black Metal and half Ambient. During most of the album, the heaviness is virtually nonexistent, but it shines through at some points to make it a little bit heavier, but more often then not these heavier parts drag on for a very long time without changing riffs, almost ruining some of the songs on here. However, when the heaviness ceases and Wrest begins to experiment some more, things get more interesting. The use of acoustic guitars is very prominent on this album, and they appear on a vast majority of the tracks. My only complaint with the acoustics is that I wish they played more melodic riffs and added to the darker atmosphere of this album a little bit more. It is a different story though with the use of synths, they add a lot to some of the tracks. As the fifth track “Paramnesia” wraps up, some really cool synth effects come into play and drag you out of the dark pit which Lurker Of Chalice had dug. I think that what Wrest was going for here is best displayed during the absolutely fantastic opener “I”, and the longest track “This Blood Falls As Mortal Part III”. “This Blood Falls As Mortal Part III” has an interesting mix of synths, drums, ambient background noises and guitars. Wrest’s usual vocals are not present here. Instead a really cool, sinister growl is used, as well as spoken female vocal sections. With “I”, this is an ambient song done right. With thundering drumming beginning, a really awesome synth melody sneaks in which will give you an awesome first impression. Now, if Lurker Of Chalice had put out an entire album like these two songs, then we’d be talking in terms of a 4 or so. However, with nearly half the tracks Wrest goes off target.
The use of vocals during this album is very odd. Wrest uses an extremely peculiar vocal style here which still remains questionable in my eyes. It’s not really a scream per-se, nor is it a growl. It’s like a heavily layered mumbling which is very throaty. It is awkward, yes, but it is not terrible. Having listened to Leviathan previously, I was familiar with the vocal style of Wrest, but this album caught me by surprise. Some won’t mind it, others will absolutely loathe it, and even fewer will enjoy it, but thankfully they aren’t present very often. Other vocal effects, such as spoken word passages, female vocals, or even chanting is used to vary things up a bit.
Now, like I stated earlier people will be on the fence with this album. They’ll be puzzled as to whether Lurker Of Chalice was being entirely serious with this, or whether Wrest actually listened to the music he creates, but the fact is there are some very good songs on here, sadly coupled with some very awful songs. My suggestion to Wrest would be to look back on this, decide what worked and what didn’t, write some new and varied material, and then start recording again. While this most likely isn’t going to happen, because Wrest has stated he hasn’t had time for another Lurker Of Chalice album, it would be nice to see an entire album of dark ambient metal from one of the most interesting (and perhaps insane) musicians in the United States metal scene.
+ Good Use Of Acoustic Guitars
+ Good Use Of Synths
+ Some Songs Achieve The Desired Atmosphere
+ Has Great Potential
- Questionable Vocals
- Repetitive Riffs
- Way Too Long (1 Hour)
- A Good Amount Of Bad Songs
“This Blood Falls As Mortal Part III”