Review Summary: Symphonic extreme metal album which spawns harsh vocals with melodic keyboards and guitar solos.
Darkness brews, voices spawn out of nowhere, evil taking over. Harsh, high pitched vocals spreading an uncontrollable plague. Symphonic melodies of demonic chants taking over. Fast paced drumming of vengeance about to destroy. Melodic guitar solos overcoming the pursuit of the fallen one that was damned...This is “Second Skin of Harlequin”, Illnath’s third album.
The album as a whole has a very good production quality. The album is all about creating atmosphere, it is very melodic and dark. The vocals and lyrics are the most aggressive part of the record as a whole, most of the other elements are meant to add melody.
This album has become quite an annoying listen after several months of discovering it. There is just something about it that makes me dislike it, most probably the repetitiveness and the vocals. The album is nothing too special, but worth a listen or too, even for fans of the genre.
Many will compare this band to the infamous Cradle of Filth, but there are some notable differences. First of all, the vocal style is not just high-pitched as Dani Filth's is, this also features low pitched growls as well. Another important difference is the use of keyboards, they are used far more often in the songs, as opposed to just background.
Symphonic keyboards dominate the sound, much like in the previous album. The melodies are very well synchronized with the guitars and drums, blending into a pleasant and heavy sound. This sound can be heavily compared to other similar bands, such as Dimmu Borgir, blending heaviness and melody into one package. The melodies range from slow, almost classical sound, to keyboard solos complimented by the guitars and sometimes the drums. The production quality is top notch.
The vocals are a let downt; Narrenschiff’s vocals are very high-pitched and have a tendancy to become annoying. However, they are also incredibly clear, the lyrics are understood at times without reading the lyrics, which is always a plus. His vocals also go into lower tones as well. Along with the keyboards, they are the main focus of the sound. As for the lyrics, they tell a story in each song. I strongly suggest looking them up since they are incredible, very descriptive and interesting. For their content, look at the introduction paragraph.
Danni’s drumming matches the speed of the songs, and the highlight would be the faster parts. However, the drumming is not heard as much, since the keyboards, guitars, and vocals are most prominent throughout. The guitar solos are very melodic and catchy. Pete also speeds up the pace rather well in the faster songs, while incorporating a solid amounts of notes, not too many that cram solos, but not too few as too sound simplistic and dull. The bass mainly serves to compliment the guitar sound, not being heard much.
"And there was Light" is a track worthwhile mentioning. It has all of his albums elements at its best, It has several melodic guitar solos, top notch keyboards. The song begins with an eerie keyboard sound, quickly followed by low tone vocals which turn into the harsh ones that are present in the entire song. The backing vocals have an echo that add to the atmosphere as well. The guitars, drums, and keyboards are all synchronized, giving a beautiful sound. At 1:57 there is a short break from the vocals, followed by a very melodic guitar solo. Towards the second half, there is even more melody, offering very little repetitiveness on the song.
The album is far from being the band's best work, here are some of the flaws:
Length. The album is only 43 minutes long, including the bonus track. A bit too short for this genre.
A lot of repetitiveness. Although the songs have some variety, the song structures are similar, having combinations of harsh verses, solos, and occasional keyboard riffling.
Picking specific tracks from the album is hard since this is probably a hit or miss. However, I find these to be essential and to present what the album has to offer in the best way:
And there was Light
Feathers Shall Fall
Pick this up if you are into symphonic metal or symphonic extreme metal. Even if you hate Cradle of Filth, this band is worth a listen, it is not a copy of said band, they incorporate a much more symphonic style(comparable to After Forever and Epica's keyboard styles).