13 Jan 2016

Desiderium: "An Image of Solitude"

Scandinavian spirits in North America
Although black metal as a genre isn't that old - defined in the 80s by bands like Bathory and Hellhammer of course - it hasn't ceased to evolve and change through the years. Post 2000 there's been a substantial focus among newcomers on atmosphere and lengthier compositions, although it seems mostly like an exaggeration of the style bands like Burzum and Satyricon perfected in the early 90s.

Desiderium can count itself as one of those bands. Instead of focusing on blasts or simplistic song structure like a great deal of other black metal bands do, this American duo consisting of Michael Rumple (the main composer) and Philip Wentworth (also of the band "Thomas Taylor") centers their songwriting around complex and intricate song structures with many different elements and parts all interwoven magnificently to form this 6-track full length album of impressive atmospheric black metal.

While many black metal bands lean towards a very harsh sound with furious guitar riffs, Desiderium leans more in the opposite direction with a more intricate and melodic approach. Their lengthy songs are all filled to the brim with foggy atmospheres comprising of a mix of instrumentation and unusual song structures with a multitude of melodic riffs. 

"As might be expected the drumming is a tad bit uninspired. That comes with the added advantage of not taking away attention from the guitars..."

While the production side of the sound is adequately mysterious and organic, the vocal department lags behind. Rumple's articulation is well fitted for the general expression of "An Image of Solitude", but falls a bit into the background with the many layers of additional instrumentation and soundscapes that take up the majority of the image. As might be expected the drumming is a tad bit uninspired. That comes with the added advantage of not taking away attention from the guitars, which seem to be the main focal point for the songwriters in question.

Desiderium has managed a great deal of variety and diversity across the 6 tracks that make up "An Image of Solitude". Desolation, foggy landscapes and frozen rivers are some of the images Rumple conjures with his compositions, and to fully appreciate all the tiny details the album is definitely best enjoyed through a set of headphones in one sitting.

"An Image of Solitude" stands as a monument to the majesty of modern melodic and atmospheric black metal, and this album is exactly what its title indicates: A musical picture of solitude. Many will find that it doesn't quite click with the first few listens, but its 45 minute play length is well worth the time all things considered.


Released in 2011 independently

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