Review Summary: A breath of fresh air in the symphonic black metal genre.
Symphonic black metal is a genre that seems to get a lot of hate from black metal purists. A lot of people think that the bands in this genre aren't "true' enough to be talked about with some of the big names of black metal. Some of the hate is deserved though. For years bands have been trying to imitate and recreate the earlier works of some of the more popular bands in the genre such as Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, and Old Man's Child, just to name a few. While people here will tell you I'm a huge fan of the aforementioned bands, that's not to say that I like all of the imitation bands that don't add anything original to the genre. Personally, I was bored by symphonic black metal for the longest time just because it seemed like I heard it all before. Well I probably spoke too soon. This band, Alghazanth and their album Vinum Intus
, along with a few other bands, have restored some of my faith in what was once my most beloved genre of music, symphonic black metal.
The most important thing about this album, and something that needs to be clarified right off the bat, is the fact that they put the black metal at the forefront in terms of the name symphonic black metal. Alghazanth doesn't try to do anything cheesy or try to make their music sound so epic and over the top that you're in shock. No, what they want to do first and foremost is display their skills on the rest of the instruments instead of trying to hide it behind a huge orchestra. Riffs on this album are ice cold, almost something that you would hear on an old Dissection or Sacramentum record. All of the riffs are very melodic while still being intense at the very same time. Drumming is also very well done, with the majority of it being blast beating and a lot of faster rhythmic type stuff. Not extremely technical, but it is very well executed. The vocals, which are done by Mikko Kotamaki of Swallow the Sun fame, are pretty damn impressive as well, with the sound of them leaning more towards the high-pitched shrieking in vein of earlier Ihsahn vocals on the earlier Emperor albums. If that gives you any idea of how the album sounds, then you'll know it's damn good.
As I said earlier, this band puts the 'black metal' first in the term symphonic black metal. However, after all of that, there are some pretty damn good symphonics and melodies to be found throughout the whole duration of the album. A lot of people probably wouldn't associate the word beautiful with black metal, but it can be applied to this album at some points. With the 9 songs here averaging about 6 minutes in length, you know there's a lot going on. Whenever the black metal parts slow down, that makes way for the pianos and keyboards to do what they do. There are several interludes between songs where they take over and add an extra soft element into the already menacing black metal equation. It's a perfect balance between the two and Alghazanth pull it off magnificently here.
Alghazanth have definitely restored a lot of my faith in the symphonic black metal scene. If more bands could try and do something like this instead of fapping over what has already been done what seems like a million times, then the whole scene would be a whole lot better off. This album just proves that you don't need a huge budget and a full blown orchestra and choir to make an enjoyable symphonic black metal album. Even some of the black metal "purists" could find something to like in this album. As I said, this album is black metal first and symphonic second, which is definitely a breath of fresh air.