Here we have almost 12 minutes of music, made up of two originals and an Emperor cover. Formicarius’ Black Metal is Symphonic, Old-School and dark. Harking back to an early era when bands like Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor were still young, Formicarius are attempting to herald a return to such times.
Featuring veterans of the UK Metal scene, (including the guitarist of the excellent De Profundis), this is a band who are starting out from a very strong position, so although this is only their first release it very much sounds like they have been together for a lot longer.
The songs have a streamlined darkness that flows and winds around the ostentatious keyboards like vines trying to strangle the life from something. The grim music pulses against the throat of the bright orchestration but doesn’t dampen its enthusiasm. Indeed, it seems spurned on by its antagonistic partnership to even greater heights.
One thing that was largely missing from this style back in the day was guitar solos, so I’m pleased that these make a brief appearance here. Played well, the music in general is accomplished and enjoyable. The songs are relatively simple homages to the Old-School Symphonic Black Metal style, (a bit of a mouthful), that are well-written and perfromed by people who clearly know what they’re doing.
Although there is a good helping of nostalgia with music such as this, (very much so for me), this is still a band who are doing their best to bring the style into the modern age. Admittedly, there’s only so much of this which can be done before changing the music into something else entirely, but on Lake of the Dead it’s the small touches here and there that give the band a certain edge; a short melody, a certain riff or keyboard addition…it distinguishes them as a band who are from the here and now, regardless of how old a style it is that they play and clearly love.
And the Emperor cover is fucking great, too.
12:00 minutes of quality. Get it.