Review Summary: Creative keyboard lines drive a majestic beauty that the album portrays.
Some will argue that symphonic black metal these days is a genre that never really tries to innovate itself, or break out of the pattern. In some ways, this is quite true, since many bands today produce music that is hard to differentiate, or that bands are just carbon copies of themselves. Even to fans of the genre the argument has a lot of validity, and it really becomes a test of patience to see how much a person can bear of having the same type of music being milked over and over again. However this may or may not be true, it is only a general trend, and therefore, there are still many bands that do not follow this trend.
What Sinful ‘s release brings to the table is a nice cup of tea to both fans of the genre and those with an open mind to keyboards and melody in black metal. Russian Sinful released Omyt a few years back, but it is quite advanced for a debut album. There are many things to praise about Omyt that can’t be said about their follow up, Anocton, starting with variety in songs and structures. Songwriting is intriguing and it is clear that the band was approaching an enjoyable album from all directions and is an incredible change of pace for the genre. Symphonic black metal’s goals are somewhat split between a good melody, brutality and atmosphere. In its 40 minutes, Omyt puts forth melody and atmosphere at the expense of brutality, which is something not commonly done.
What this record sounds like is basically taking a symphonic black metal album and watering down its heaviness tenfold, while increasing the keyboards’ presence and sound. The songs are all driven mainly by the keyboards, which are very creative in this release. The guitars take a secondary role but provide a nice cushion for the keyboards to land on. Both instruments play the same notes much of the time, but when they are different they always seem to compliment each other in majestic ways. There are also background synths, additional to the main keyboard tone. This is the backbone of everything here, and the instruments excel at this. Probably one of the most important flaws of the keyboards and guitars are their lack of variety, at certain times. The songs are somewhat predictable in nature, and have commonly used structures overall. However, after accepting this issue, everything else is generally good quality.
The rest of the instruments do their role in the music and don’t distract from the main sound. The vocals are typical black metal shrieks, with some lower vocals used from time to time. But vocals here mainly serve as another layer of musical complexity, akin to another instrument. Drumming is mid-paced most of the time, and thankfully, rarely plays blast beats, except in Midnight Death, and fit quite nicely with the progression that song took. Speaking about progression, Whirlpool also varies its tempo and structure within itself. Both songs are the highlight, but overall the album flows well. Instrumentation seems to be the focus, and the backing elements never ruin or detriment from it.
The melodies remind me of vampires and the night. However, they never fall into the trap that most melodic/symphonic black metal bands with vampyric themes fall into-pretentiousness and exaggeration. There are no female vocals to be found, or any spoken vocals. Imagery of the cover is also abstract and does not remind the listener of any of the clichés commonly used. That is what is beautiful, it genuinely portrays a slight touch of vampires, blended with European melodies.
Hopefully Omyt will be recognized as a gem hidden beneath countless albums of quality ranging from average to mediocre to repetitive. Sinful’s unique approach to symphonic black metal is the real highlight, as well as the soft and enjoyable sound they have been able to achieve. It is what many fans of the genre will love and explores some of the most forgotten territories in symphonic black metal. The keyboard melodies are so enjoyable that I would bet they can stand their ground in an ambient album all by themselves.