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4.48 | 11 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2014


Disc 1 - Part I: Singularity:
1. Omphalos (7:28)
2. The Veiled Garden (16:32)
3. The Cold March Towards Eternal Brightness (14:42)
4. Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone (11:26)

Total Time 50:08

Disc 2 - Part II: Eternity:
1. The Spiral Fountain (10:46)
2. A Rider Through the Lands of an Infinite Dreamscape (12:45)
3. Cosmic Significance (13:51)

Total Time 37:22

Total Time (both): 87:30


- Ayloss / Everything

About this release

Released by I, Voidhanger Records, May 2nd, 2014.

First press digipak limited to 500 copies.

Jewel case unlimited repress released in 2015.

Contains a 20-page full colour booklet.

Thanks to UMUR for the addition and adg211288 for the updates


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"A breath, formed into the atmosphere, rained down into the oceans. Was led into a little stream, that fed a spiral fountain."

Atmospheric black metal generally isn't my thing. I do enjoy a handful of black metal bands, but I'm really picky when it comes to the style. I would rank Myrkur, Melechesh, Absu, Immortal, and a few others as fantastic bands, but I generally find a lot of black metal to be forgettable, derivative, contrived, and overall boring. I get that it's a genre that's supposed to take you on some sort of journey, but apart from Alcest's Kodama which I don't even consider to be metal, I've never really gotten that feeling from this stuff.

Many of these atmospheric acts are one-man/woman bands, and Spectral Lore comes as no exception. Released to critical acclaim, Ayloss' (the man behind Spectral Lore) strangely titled fourth album leaves me somewhat in the middle. There is some fantastic stuff to be heard here, as well as some that is very typical of the genre. Interestingly, I find the best track to be one that is not metal at all, "Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone". This is a very beautiful instrumental folk tune that may remind one of the classical guitar playing of Steve Howe or Still Life-era Opeth. There is also some great piano work that blends nicely with the classical guitar, as well as atmospheric chanting-type vocals at the end.

The opening track on disc two, "The Spiral Fountain" continues from where the aforementioned last song left off. It begins with a similar classical guitar motif, but soon brings the black metal in. This song is blasting with melodic guitar leads, surprisingly guttural roars for black metal, and having a perfect atmosphere. What makes the atmosphere work so well here is the fact that it's the beautiful melodies of the guitar that creates the atmosphere rather than a synthetic echo effect that drones over the rest of the music. I can't stress how great the guitar riffs and melodies are in this song enough, it sends chills down my spine.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of the album either falls in place of typical bland atmospheric black metal or features some good ideas mixed in with said sound. Thankfully though, there is one more great song other then the aforementioned tracks. Spectral Lore's III ends with another beautiful track as the finale, "Cosmic Significance". The first half of this song is comprised of sweet melancholy keys that do make me feel like I'm on a lonely yet alluring journey through deep space. The banging and surprisingly catchy beat of the drums slowly announce for the other instruments to come in. Some of the guitar melodies actually remind me of Eloy here. It certainly gives the album an epic climax.

While the three songs I described are among the most beautiful songs I've ever heard, that's only a half-hour of a nearly 90-minute album. It's a real shame, because if Spectral Lore had honed in his sound and maybe made an album with those three songs, it would be a masterpiece. Fans of atmospheric black metal will of course eat this up either way, but for those of you like me who prefer your black metal to have more hooks and memorable riffing, give this a try. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
A superb atmospheric black metal double album from this one-musician project. Spectral Lore is the output of Ayloss, who accomplishes a high level of adept multi-instrumental proficiency here. Atmospheric black metal has, of course, been very keen on working in aspects of folk or ambient music since its inception - Burzum having pioneered that - but on III Ayloss produces some really exceptional quieter moments to sit alongside the impressively furious black metal crescendos.

"Dungeon synth"-esque ambient sections in black metal have often enjoyed a somewhat lo-fi aesthetic, in keeping with black metal as a whole, but here the production is crystal clear and the material is intricate and delicate enough to well and truly justify that. Closing number cosmic significance somehow blends dungeon synth, dark ambient, creepy folk and howling black metal into a single magnificent piece which flows beautifully and seamlessly from beginning to end. Truly a landmark album in this niche subgenre.
More than any other genre of metal music, black metal seems to be the domain of the solo project. One such one man band is Spectral Lore, a Greek act by a musician going by the moniker Ayloss (also of Divine Element). III (2014), is, despite it's title, the fourth full-length album release from the project. A double disc effort, it can probably be considered Ayloss' most ambitious work to date. Between writing and recording the album took about five years to complete. During that time period, 2008-2013, Spectral Lore released its third album Sentinel (2012) along with a few splits including Sol (2013) with US labelmate Mare Cognitum, which was also part collaboration. I believe that this album is called III because Ayloss always intended this to follow II (2007). Sentinel, it seems, only came about due to Ayloss' frustrations with problems with production and mixing (information taken from a press release on III) and ended up being made so the musician could gather the skills he needed to complete III the way he wanted it to sound and was written and recorded in just three months, a massive difference compared to III. I happen to think that Sentinel is a pretty great album in its own right, however it's clear that a lot more care and dedication has been put into III. Ayloss seems to have gone all out with this one.

III is not what you may call an easy album. There's simply too much to take in for it to be the sort of album that would serve as the go-to for someone looking for a quick black metal fix. It's not really due to its length as although III is a double album the total time isn't actually that much longer than a single CD can hold, clocking in at around eighty-seven and a half minutes. That's still long, but it isn't quite as daunting to delve into as certain other long black metal albums I've come across, not least those by Spectral Lore's I, Voidhanger Records labelmate Midnight Odyssey where we're talking about over two full hours of music. Instead it's the music itself which proves really challenging and what ultimately makes III one of those albums that requires some real perseverance to get to grips with. The impatient among us with probably give up and go look for something more immediately satisfying. Those who can however give the album the dedication it deserves will find one of the most rewarding albums they're likely to ever come across.

While Spectral Lore is usually considered to be an atmospheric black metal act, I find that some of the music on III is actually quite dissonant in its delivery, which is where its difficult nature starts to come into play. Give the album a bit of time though and each track will give up their secrets and show off all the different ideas and moods that Ayloss has managed to incorporate into it, such as some really chaotic sounding stuff in The Veiled Garden or the triumphant sounds in A Rider Through the Lands of an Infinite Dreamscape. Elsewhere on the album, such as Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone, Ayloss largely turns away from black metal and towards ambient and dark folk influences, which you can still here in the black metal tracks at times, but here the focus switches around. III sways between two different extremes in this respect and the variety really makes the lengthy album work so well.

I like that Ayloss has taken the time to really develop these non-metal ideas as much as he has; many artists would use such things for a short throwaway interlude piece if they felt the need to offer their listener a breather from their usual extreme metal sound but not Spectral Lore. If anything it's these mostly less metal orientated tracks, another of which is the closing Cosmic Significance, that prove the early standouts when exploring III due to the cleaner sound compared to the black metal, which has a suitable level of rawness that old school fans of the genre are sure to appreciate. It does also have the slight downside though in that it makes the black metal tracks come across as being more subtle with their ideas and as such they take a few more listens before they really begin to reveal their own identities.

III is certainly a lot to take in, even if one tries to take it in two parts (which it is presented in – disc one is called Singularity and disc 2 is called Eternity). If your experience with the album is anything like mine has been it will take many listens before you can really say you've scratched the surface of what it offers. I'm at about a dozen listens to it now and I still feel as if I have more to discover. That's a rare kind of album. If there is an actual weak link in it all it would have to be that I don't really find Ayloss to have that much of a commanding presence as a growling vocalist, while also finding it difficult to follow what are actually some really substantial lyrics, but I don't feel as if my enjoyment of the album is affected too much by that. As a composer Ayloss has proven that he's one of the best in the genre with III, an album which I'd deem as being essential for anyone with a taste for black metal and the patience to appreciate everything the album offers. III may have taken Ayloss half a decade to complete, but I'd say it was time well spent. It's going to be interesting to hear how Ayloss is going to go about topping this.

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