Review Summary: A successful black metal album without the use of any electrical guitars; mainly thriving from the atmosphere created by symphonics; yet, not succumbing to the pitfalls of typical symphonic black metal
"Carnal Lust and Wolfen" is one of the most bizzare, yet unique black metal albums I've ever come across. These Russians have clearly chosen to do things a bit differently, playing a black metal style without the use of any electric or acoustic guitars. The music stand with only the use of vox, drums, syths/keyboards, and a bass guitar. Replacing electric guitars with keyboards can be a very risky move in the realm of dark metal, but the compositional arrangements are the only thing holding this album from falling apart. Some songs are more black metal oriented such as most of the first half of this album, while the second half tends to focus more on darkened electronical elements whilst still using the full support of the other band member's/elements.
"Moonchild" and the title track are the most metal oriented which use a fair share of darkened melodies, but tempos are usually mid to slow, almost always favoring the slow. These slower tempos allow the layered synth harmonies to marinate; the titled track, being my favorite from this album, has some of most beautiful melodies on earth that carry the emtional atmosphere of the other instruments. Clean pianos then join the scene with merits comparable to a classical virtuoso. These two metal-oriented track are then fused into the rest of the album with an ambient ballad-like intrumental track, which leads into the latter half of the album. This latter half is mainly focused on dark electronic ambience.
The balance of electronics are quite impressive as neither really gets in the way of the other. They somehow find a middle ground, drawing both lovers of black metal and dark ambient. Tracks like "Ixaxar" and "Mael Bennique", although using a plethora of electronics, don't detract from the emotion of previous tracks. While the emotion is still there, the flow of the album is kinda awkard at first but after repeated listens can yield desirable results. A stronger use of alternating tempos could make certain more appealing and enjoyable, making a bit stagnance the main downfall for this album.
For a release that came out in 2000, Nargathrond were doing something unique in the black metal community. They were not dependant on following a line of decendants, rather they created fresh material which can be highly enjoyable, but at the same time they left many gaps and holes within their albums that left listeners craving more of their greatest attributes. Thankfully they put a really hot mystic chick on the cover waiting for my throbbing chode, therefore drawing my attention evermore.