Throughout all of my ventures of music listening, one genre that I have yet to really connect with, is blackened funeral doom. From the outside descriptions, the genre just never really seemed that interesting; slow, churning guitars, crawling drum beats and generally long, drawn out song lengths. Even while many bands incorporate elements of doom into their song structures, the thought of whole tunes comprising of these qualities for the longest time, seemed quite off putting. Fortunate for me then, that recently i have come upon the band Arcana Coelestia, a blackened funeral doom outfit harking from Cagliari, Italy. Their sophomore effort Le mirage de l’idéal
is the album that has me being convinced that maybe funeral doom, isn't so boring after all.
While every single aspect of the songwriting seen on Le mirage de l’idéal
is a factor that contributes to its ultimate success, the full and lush orchestrations that dominate the length record are undoubtedly its most enjoyable factors. From opening song "Duskfall" to album closer "...Thus Fade in Nocturnal Deluge" the album is packed to the brim with sorrow filled, despair inducing atmospherics. In particular title track "Le mirage de l’idéal" (which ironically seems to be the most upbeat song on the album) is abundant in classically influenced synth keys, and is also noticeable for the being the first track to feature vocalist LS's incredible clean vocals. While his usual vocals include deep, guttural growls or sometimes even higher pitched rasps similar to black metal, his mid-ranged operatic styled vocals fit in perfect with the bleak and dreary atmosphere produced by the keyboards and other instruments. Another vocal landmark on the album is the introduction of female operatic vocals on the song " Tragedy & Delirium I - The Tragedy", which are surprisingly uplifted, a stark, yet pleasant contrast from the rest of the music.
Musically, the guitar, drums and bass remain on the simpler side throughout the entirety of Le mirage de l’idéal
. The guitars, which contain the down tuned element of death metal, yet the simplicity in delivery of black metal. Of course guitar player MZ throws in a few surprises here and there, with tracks like "Requiem (For the Fathomless Void of Redemption)"featuring swathes of clean guitar and tremolo picked dual guitar harmonies. Drummer Thorns may not show off the most technical or mind blowing approach to drumming on Le mirage de l’idéal
to call him merely adequate is a large understatement. Throughout the record he displays a simpler style of drumming accented by unusual fills and great timing. Unfortunately bass player Sephrenel is drowned out for most of the album, a shame considering some bottom end could perhaps make this a perfect record.
Overall, this is an album that seasoned veterans and newcomers to blackened funeral doom alike could enjoy immensely. Dominated by strong melodies, great playing and powerful emotions, Le mirage de l’idéal
comes dangerously close to being a perfect record. As for Arcana Coelestia, where the quality of their future releases may lie still remains shrouded in mystery, but if it is close quality to Le mirage de l’idéal
they may just find themselves as one of the best regarded bands in the genre.