Spectral Lore
III


4.5
superb

Review

by ComeToDaddy USER (24 Reviews)
September 16th, 2014 | 204 replies


Release Date: 05/02/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Anything and everything pertaining to black metal

Black metal has undeniably stepped forward into the limelight of late. In terms of both quality and quantity, 2014 has seen some of the best releases the genre has offered up in past years, and black metal has arguably never been more appealing to newcomers. With artists like Lord Mantis and Darkspace releasing impressive albums to cater for specific niches, and perfect entry-point albums like Saor’s Aura and Cormorant’s Earth Diver, the genre is reaching an accessibility peak. Progressive elements, folk instruments and melodic passages pervade many new releases, and stray far from the origins of the genre. However, once in a blue moon, an artist can be found who is capable of distilling this plethora of styles into a cohesive whole. Nihilus Ayloss is the sole songwriter and instrumentalist here, and III is the culmination of everything he has worked towards since commencing work under the Spectral Lore moniker. Cherry picking from every facet of the genre, Ayloss has succeeded in taking a snapshot of black metal in its entirety; the biting cold of winter, the unbridled intensity of its origins, a mixture of classic lo-fi sound with crystalline production of the new age, and tempering it all with the beauty of its affiliated genres.

Charging out of the gates, Disc 1 (dubbed ‘Singularity’) opens with ‘Omphalos’, the most typical black metal track on offer. 3 straight minutes of intense blastbeats and guttural growls are followed by a menacing wash of white noise, where the track winds to its conclusion with slow-burning melodic leads atop Ayloss’ despair-ridden wails. This is the only track that really lends itself to opening such an album, sitting at a runtime of 7:29 and being the only song to stay within single-digit minutes, easing the listener into the album. By contrast, ‘The Veiled Garden’ indicates the direction the remainder of the album will follow. Covering more ground in a single track than many albums do in their entirety, it winds through tremolo-picked melodies, crushing doom sections, ambience, acoustic fingerpicking and an awe-inspiring lo-fi build beginning at 9 minutes and leading to the most intense black-metal climax of the year at 14 minutes. Once this track fades away with a soft repetitive folk segment, it raises the question; can the remainder of this album maintain this degree of variety? The most extraordinary thing is not only does the album meet these raised expectations, it often surpasses them.

To name any single track as the highlight would be a disservice to the masterpiece Ayloss has crafted here. Every single song can stand on its own two feet, but most importantly, every track contributes to the album. From the brooding folk of ‘Drifting through Moss…’, to the walls of cold tremolo riffing throughout ‘The Spiral Fountain’ and even the spacey electronic ambience that opens the final song, everything fulfils a role and nothing appears misplaced. This is a real achievement for an album with such broad ambition, and even factoring in elements like the triumphant near-symphonic cheese in Disc 2 (dubbed ‘Eternity’) and 25+ minutes of strictly instrumental tracks, it doesn’t sound forced. All of these divergent influences are finely woven together and played off each other with finesse. The highlights of the album don’t come down to which songs were more carefully composed; it’s simply about personal preference.

Strangely enough, the single flaw in this 90 minute behemoth is that there is simply too much content for such a short runtime. Despite spanning the length of two discs, the depth and variety on display here warrant a far greater length, and cause the albums greatest asset to also act as its most debilitating weakness. It is rare for a double album to be derided as rushed, but the concepts at work here could have been spread across two or even three albums, and resulted in a more digestible final product with less labyrinthian compositions. With more space to flesh out the album, taking the time to articulate his ideas carefully could have easily resulted in the best black metal album of the decade thus far. And who knows, possibly the best of the 21st century, it’s that good.

This is an outstanding release for the year, the artist and the genre as a whole. III doesn’t represent everything black metal stands for, but it encompasses everything black metal has become. Those well-versed with the genre will undoubtedly find some aspect to love because the appeal is so wide-reaching, yet those who are not so avid can still appreciate the myriad faces Ayloss assumes to present his musical vision to the listener. III exceeds any expectations set by previous albums and stands head and shoulders above its compatriots in terms of songwriting, technical ability and ambition. This is the most impressive black metal album of 2014, and a testament to what the genre is capable of given the right mindset and a willing hand.



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user ratings (85)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fanboying pretty hard in this, I feel like I used a bit too much hyperbole but this is extremely close to a 5 for me. Everyone who has been enjoying the black metal this year needs to listen to this. Constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated

Album stream: http://spectrallore.bandcamp.com/album/iii

Digging: Viet Cong - Viet Cong

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2014


16478 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I and II are good so i'll have to check this

manosg
September 16th 2014


6700 Comments


Props for reviewing this album, pos. Will definitely check.

Digging: Witchfynde - Give 'em Hell

Keyblade
September 16th 2014


15403 Comments


Sweet, still need to check this. Keep up the good rev'ing man

Digging: Fen - Carrion Skies

ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hard to dislike this is you enjoyed previous albums, it ups the ante in pretty much every regard (except the production is cleaner here, so that's a neg if you prefer raw)

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review for an awesome album, pos, too bad it can't (?) be featured.

Album is currently AOTY 2014 for Sputnik.


Digging: Madred - Supersonic Brainfuck Overdrive

ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Will edit that stream into my top comment so it's more easily accessible, if you don't mind.

Can user reviews not be featured? I don't know any details with that regard

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 16th 2014


6339 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

No problem man, in fact I was going to ask you to.

As for the feature, the album got out in May and it's custom of reviews of albums released during the current month to be featured.

osmark86
September 16th 2014


4548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

nice! this finally got a review.

ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ah okay, thanks for the heads up Voivod, appreciate it (:

emester
September 16th 2014


4376 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album rules beyond belief

Digging: Skelator - King of Fear

JohnnyOnTheSpot
September 16th 2014


1896 Comments


Sweet review dude. Bit of a hefty read but you did a good job on this one

Digging: Kate Carr - Fabulations

ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I actually had another 2 paragraphs that I cut out because this ended up absurdly long, but it's tied AOTY for me so I wanted to be thorough haha

ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also niiiice dig, I was planning to review that Towers album in the next couple of weeks, it's ace

osmark86
September 16th 2014


4548 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

well done ComeToDaddy. keep these reviews coming!

PS. sublime album. if you haven't heard it yet you're doing yourself a disservice.

ComeToDaddy
September 16th 2014


384 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks a heap osmark, will do my best. I've got a couple of reviews planned and finally cleared assessments for the semester so I'll throw them out more regularly for the next little while

CaptainDooRight
September 16th 2014


30334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

faith

RunOfTheMill
September 16th 2014


1555 Comments


Looks rad, will be checking

zaruyache
September 16th 2014


7410 Comments


Still have to give this a serious listen. Don't really like the production but we'll see how it goes. Also pos'd.

Digging: Maybeshewill - Fair Youth

Amphoteric
September 16th 2014


2014 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

AOTY



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