SPECTRAL LORE — III (review)

SPECTRAL LORE — III album cover Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
2.5/5 ·
Unitron
"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!
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Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Also, let's have some perspective, Unitron gave this one three and a half stars and said that several of the songs here are the most beautiful they've heard. That's not exactly trashing the album, is it?
UMUR wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Elton....you are always welcome to write your own review, stating your opinion on the album. On MMA we are all entitled to our opinion and to respectfully disagree with others opinions, but respectful is the key Word here, and your post isn´t exactly that.
aglasshouse wrote:
more than 2 years ago
My god! It's almost like personal fucking preference exists! Sometimes 15 minute long epics of mainly filler riffs and horrible dying animal vocals, like most bands of Spectral Lore's caliber play, don't appeal to people as much as you. Get your head out of your ass and stop thinking that your opinion matters even in the slightest above anyone else's, because it doesn't. People are different and enjoy different thinks more than others. That's the glory of a site like this - you can see different sides of something! Because I can tell you if it was a site dedicated to confirmation biased reviews with only one consensus I can assure you it would be a dull, dull place.
elton_chagas wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Reading this review was truly disappointing. You clearly have no taste enough to fully understand the masterpiece this album is. "It's a real shame"? You really don't know what you are talking about... every minute of this album and every note are just amazing.

Stick to your "gritty" black metal bands.

adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
There is so much variance in black metal these days even within the atmospheric sub-genre. I'm sure there's more acts out there that you'll enjoy. A few more you could consider checking out are Fen, Progenie Terrestre Pura, Sojourner, Oathbreaker (only Rheia is black metal) and Wodensthrone. All atmo black acts but all doing totally different things.
Unitron wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Thanks, I'll give Mare Cognitum's latest a try.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I don't agree with your rating, but this is a well written review and it was interesting to read your alternate point of view on the album.

If you're at all interested in black metal that's still atmospheric yet more gritty, consider trying Mare Cognitum's latest Luminiferous Aether.

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