Review Summary: Darker than a thousand dying suns
Sometimes I like being depressed. It might be an insensitive thing to say but it’s true. When you never really feel one end of the spectrum, it’s nice to at least feel some extreme as opposed to being in an emotionless gray. As much as it may hurt I miss the feeling that lets you know you are truly alive…
One person I know that would agree with this statement is Mauro Berchi the musician behind the Italian atmospheric doom metal band Ras Algethi. His whole career has been dedicated to creating a depressive sound in bands like Ras Algethi, Canaan, and Neronia. In 1995 with Ras Algethi he released Oneiricon – The White Hypnotic
, the bands sole album before breaking up. This is by far the best album his name is on and in my opinion one of the greatest doom and metal albums period.
The first thing that will catch your attention is the drumming. It is not often you hear this said on a doom metal album but the drumming performance is exceptional. The style sounds unique yet uncannily fits the music. The techniques and tempos used are perfect and so is the mix. The next thing that makes this album special is the vocals. The clean vocals are Gregorian chants that sound professional in execution but at the same time manage to be catchy. Instead of the whiny clean vocals found on other albums of this genre, the airy astral chants make the album feel spiritual and powerful. In addition Oneiricon features great extreme metal rasps as well. They are used sparingly so they really make their mark on the song when they are introduced such as in Keys of Urtam (A Translucent Vision) and Symbols (In Luce Oblique). As one can see from those song titles the lyrics on this album are also very interesting. It is difficult to decipher what the lyrics mean but they are beautiful nonetheless. If I had to guess I’d say they are about some type of lost love intertwined with astrology and religion. On another note a great compliment to the Gregorian chants are the organs/keyboards. This album is up there with Skepticism as one of the best to mix in organs with extreme metal.
All of these ingredients have the makings for a one-of-a-kind album but the songwriting is what pushes this album over the top. There are multiple passages here that I’d like to describe as moments of depressive euphoria. They are in euphoric in sound, akin to maybe falling in love or taking drugs (think Pink Floyd); yet, they manage to retain the feeling of hopelessness and sorrow. They typically contain clean guitar or acoustic riffs accompanied by clean droning chants to achieve this affect. The ending climax to The Bride Eternal, the intro to Keys of Urtam and Symbols, the acoustic parts on Nubes Obscura, and the entirety of the song When Fire Meets Father all contain these moments. The latter song is considered by many to be a highlight of the album.
Oneiricon – The White Hypnotic
is one of the best ***ing funeral atmospheric whatever doom metal albums ever. I can say with certainty this is the best metal album the country of Italy has ever released. Every track here is memorable. Even the intro Aldeberan Crossing is something I eagerly look forward to hear every time I spin this. Do yourself a favor and get this and hear it at night with the lights out before sleeping. It doesn't deserve to be so overlooked.