Review Summary: Between heaven and hell
In Roman Catholic theology, limbo (from latin limbus) is the boundary between heaven and hell where dwell those souls who, although not condemned to hell, have been deprived of the joy of eternal existence. I am not a religious man, but for true believers, this imaginary place is truly terrifying, for it is a symbol of spiritual decay and eternal anguish. Through their sophomore album Limbo
, the Portuguese Gaerea intend to open a window to enlighten these rotten souls, giving them a glimpse of liberation and a chance of salvation. Eliran Kantor's cover art magnificently portrays this religious concept.
Stylistically, Gaerea's black metal features some similarities to the Polish scene, namely to Behemoth and Mgla, the latter being their greatest source of inspiration. This DNA remains immutable in Limbo
, yet the band's signature is now denser and more hermetic, just like a sonic monolith. We no longer find the catchy hooks present in songs such as 'Absent' or 'Whispers'. Limbo
behaves like a massive single organism too heavy to deviate from its path. Although all songs display a remarkable tempo variation ('Mare' being a good example) we don't find any relevant contrasts throughout the album, and that's Limbo's
Achilles heel - its lack of diversity. This more monochromatic approach requires some patience from the listener, forcing us to be constantly aware of the subtle nuances within songs. I wouldn't be surprised if some would find the album somewhat monotonous and boring. I myself had to struggle against boredom throughout the first few listenings, but my persistence paid off as I discovered those tiny little details that lend personality to Limbo
. The dramatic, agonizing vocals and the way guitars move between fingerpicking patterns and typical black metal tremolo picking are among the details that deserve our closest attention. 'Glare's' hypnotizing tremolo picking or 'Null's' Behemoth-esque kickoff are also moments that I would like to highlight, due to their inherent strength. Despite the lack of more convincing contrasts I mentioned earlier, the album does not fail to present some somewhat surprising notes, such as the ecclesiastical fragrances in 'Glare', 'Conspiranoia' and 'Mare' or the death metal section in 'Urge'. Nevertheless, all these nuances never truly leave orbit, being only new tones that momentarily deviate from the core palette. The album's gravitational center is too heavy and dense to allow great stylistic leaps. The bold production also actively contributes to the album's massive and dense signature.
Despite its somewhat one-dimensional approach, Limbo
has the merit of presenting a coherent formula from beginning to end. Everything was thought down to the smallest detail and nothing was left to chance. This hermetic design deserves to be explored and valued, as it is the fruit of a band with a message and an unwavering desire to deepen and spread its music. I honestly don't know if Gaerea's Limbo
will be able to free all the lost souls that wander between heaven and hell, yet I firmly believe it has the intrinsic quality to establish the band as a black metal force to be reckoned with.