There is a tendency for black metal bands to fall into one of three categories, either ambient black metal such as Wolves in the Throne Room, symphonic black metal such as Dimmu Borgir or a modern version of second wave Norwegian black metal such as Mayhem. Some bands, such as Ottawa's Endemise, manage to cross reference all three of these.
At first glance, it is clearly symphonic black metal, as an underlying orchestration exists throughout the album, which provides the gravitus and emphasis unique to the genre. This is a personal favorite subgenre of black metal, but I was equally excited to find there were so many other elements to enjoy on the album.
Endemise had escaped my notice prior to this review, but I knew instantly I had chosen wisely within the first minute of the first song "Nocturne". The track opens with sounds of a forest campfire accompanied by haunting and atmospheric orchestration.
This segues into pounding power chords, demonic vocals and the genre defining blast beats. Tremolo picking, of the type pioneered by Euronymous, appears only briefly during a bridge section of the first song, before returning ferociously and permanently in the second song, title track "Anathema".
It is a suitable blueprint for the rest of the album which in many ways is a masterpiece of arrangement and composition. On the third track, "Blackening" there are even passages which are reminiscent of New Wave of British Heavy Metal, which showcases the full range of Endemise's influences.
The highlight track on the album is "Fragments in Stone" which sears through the speakers with aggression and brutality while still maintaining a melodic sensibility. The orchestration on this track is slow and measured complimenting bombastic, marching guitar riffs. Meanwhile, the drums are blasting at breakneck speed, while vocalist Franky Falsetto delivers lines like an undead general barking orders to his soldiers. Endemise manages to take these seemingly disparate elements and combine them into a cohesive and powerful tune.
Through Anathema Endemise demonstrates the ability to filter several European influences into a unique sound from a Canadian perspective. It is a fine edition to the black metal catalogue of any connoisseur of these dark musical arts.
Release Date: Out Now Label: Self Released Genre: Symphonic Black Metal