Review Summary: An unremarkable but solid release, death-doom trio Asphodelus tow the line between familiarity and experimentation with largely decent results.
Comprising of two mostly instrumental tracks and two showcasing Asphodelus' (formerly Cemetery Fog) amalgam of doom, death and black metal, Dying Beauty and the Silent Sky
feels surprisingly complete for a 22 minute EP. Beginning with the ambitiously titled 'Intro', the listener is greeted with swirling ambience, the only punctuating feature being seraphic calling occasionally heard breaking through the fog. This segues naturally into 'Illusion of Life'. Initially, gloomy death-doom riffs merge with ever-present but unobtrusive synths to establish an air of melancholy, but then it morphs surprisingly seamlessly into a solo section not unlike that found on In The Nightside Eclipse
-era Emperor. Separated from the aforementioned by the title track, which bears resemblence to 'Intro' with the addition of an acoustic guitar, closer 'Nemo Ante Mortem Beatus' focuses more on a traditionally death/doom aesthetic, with traces of early 90s gothic metal creeping in particularly towards the end. The overall effect is quite peculiar; while one knows consciously that it's only an EP, the way Dying Beauty...
progresses it leaves the notion of not wanting more, but being satisfied with the lot given.
Unfortunately, despite this well-rounded appearance the moniker Asphodelus is perhaps somewhat fitting. The Asphodel Fields (Asphodelus being the flowers that grew there) were the part of the Greek underworld where the ordinary, unexceptional souls went, and sadly the supposèd character of these spirits is largely the impression one takes from Dying Beauty...
; there isn't much to outwardly complain about, but there's very little to get too excited about either. The riffs are largely solid death-doom fare but nothing particularly new. Vocally, the listener finds a mid-low growl that is once more fit for purpose, but again very similar examples can be found across the genre. Admittedly the production provides a refreshing distinguishability between the album's components, but also is frustratingly muted in its punchiness. This isn't a bad thing during the ambient tracks (in fact the prevention of harshness from the guitar adds to their serene quality), but they have a slightly jarring effect on the more energetic sections; they don't come across as lazy, but particularly during 'Illusion of Life''s midsection they lack the power to really breach the album's otherwise slightly dreamlike, ethereal nature. Dying Beauty and the Silent Sky
shows Asphodelus as a band that is aware of what makes a good death-doom album and have some inklings of flair, but have not quite nailed how to use it.