Review Summary: A strong showing of modern black metal executed near flawlessly with a stronge sense of melody without overpowering the harsh aggression. Not gay melodic black metal.
One man depressive black metal isn’t something that I particularly find intriguing but Melencolia Estatica is one exception to boot. I don’t know much about this band other than the fact that a new album was released under this moniker in 2008. The band has no myspace or any official website that I’m aware of and besides the vague description on last fm I still don’t really know much about the band. From one source I read that Melencolia Eastatica was actually a solo one woman black metal act from Italy which originally drew me into checking the band out. But according to metal-archives it states that Melencolia Estatica features two more members on drum and vocal duties. Well because I care more about the music then some kvlt low profile beliefs, I decided to pursue and acquire the newest release Letum after reading a raving review by the Unrestrained publication.
Letum is a five track, thirty four minute journey that transcends the raw and minimalist structure of traditional black metal while offering something new and refreshing to the genre. Most of the traits stemming from the second wave of black metal can be found in Melencolia Estatica’s playbook. The tremolo picking, the battering vocal assault, and the fuzzy production are quite present but what takes Melencolia Estatica to new heights is their prowess for creating memorable and highly engaging black metal with subtle melodies and above average songwriting that most of their forest dwelling peers should take note of. It’s safe to say the creative force behind the Melencolia Estatica lies in the hands of the female guitar player Climaxia who is also responsible for creating sonic mayhem in Absentia Lunae. A woman taking charge in black metal? Some of you may ponder and actually end up scoffing at the idea. Fortunately for me, my enthusiasm for metal and music in general is unwavering regardless of sexuality, religion, or anything else that is unimportant.
The soul of the music lies in the creative riff work from Climaxia. Blinding, furious, and dare I say it catchy are proper adjectives that can be used to describe Melencolia Estatica. Tempos vary from the half-time delay of the closing track to the mix and match from the rest of the album. This element of surprise helps maintain a rather enjoyable listen for the casual black metal listener. The guitar tone in itself is quite impressive. Never sounding too thin or under produced, or even lacking heaviness, Climaxia demonstrates great skill in maneuvering a riff oriented black metal record. The melodies are one of the strongest points on the album, providing solemn atmosphere with subtle excellence. Melodic black metal this is not. The vocal patterns are quite straight forward for black metal but savage nonetheless. The vocalist Solotudo also found guilty of possessing a crappy stage handle, opts for a higher strain sacrificing nothing for the harshness and aggression that black metal is portrayed to be. The drumming cuts through the aggressive backdrop like a warm spatula going through freshly baked bread. Thorns, the third and last member is a talented drummer that often blends speed with dexterity. The drum fills jolt quickly into rapid double bass patterns at the turn of a hat. The slower portions are executed just as swell resulting in a balanced transition of tempos.
As I mentioned before, the albums production is quite fuzzy but far cleaner than your average Darkthrone clone. Powerful but not spit polished. Intense but not kvlt. The mixing job is professionally handled, implementing each instrument to the best of their abilitiest without one overpowering the other. As for songwriting, this album also passes with flying colors. Melancholia Estatica embraced an aesthetic to create unique black metal without trying too hard or adding something just for the sake of being there. There aren’t any gothic keyboards, no operatic female vocals, no prog rock sections, just straight forward black metal with catchy riffs and memorable melodies. As one of the stronger black metal records of 2008, I urge people to find and acquire this as soon as possible. Especially those who like their metal with a hint of Agalloch and a shade of older Katatonia. Quality black metal is hard to find and when you do find it, the reward is that much sweeter.