Limbonic Art - Spectre Abysm album review

Symphonic black metal pioneer returns

Cover art for Limbonic Art - Spectre Abysm album

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Limbonic Art first appeared on the Norwegian black metal scene back in the early-to-mid- 90s, making their mark in ’96 with Moon In The Scorpio. Released on Samoth’s Nocturnal Art Productions label, this early entry in the fast-developing symphonic black subgenre was hailed a masterpiece by many, and remains one of the movement’s most bombastic albums. Unlike many peers who opted for heavy keyboard use, their otherworldly BM never wandered into softer, gothic territories, always maintaining a furious, aggressive edge. After six albums, Morfeus departed, leaving Daemon to produce 2010’s disappointing Phantasmagoria album alone. Spectre Abysm, Daemon’s second solo effort, is a return to past glories in most respects. The hallmark atmosphere of glorious melodrama and eccentricity bordering on madness is evident from the marcatissimo in the introduction of the aptly named opener, Demonic Resurrection. The lightning-fast programmed drums – another longtime hallmark of the band that may turn off some listeners – also remain, with furious yet lengthy riffs recalling the band’s early works, and that classic Scandinavian 90s approach, with their apocalyptic fury. But put simply, this is what makes this album a creative success, at least for those who still enjoy an earlier approach to BM. In an era where dissonant but ultimately forgettable riffs dominate much of the modern BM scene, Limbonic Art remind us that you can build intense and heavy songs with apocalyptic fervour, while utilising strong hooks and melodies without tipping over into the more twee territories of some ‘melodic black metal’. That said, this isn’t a perfect album. The stronger material is pushed to the first half, with the aforementioned guitars being slightly less vital in later tracks. But it’s a small complaint since the quality never drops significantly and the unhinged zealot-like vocals are the icing on this frosty cake.