As ridiculous as it sounds, I almost didn’t want to review or even listen to this album. Why? Because the band’s last album – 2015’s immense Shards of Silver Fade – was so hideously good that I couldn’t imagine being anything but disappointed with Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains. After all, Shards of Silver Fade claimed the coveted top spot in my end of year list for 2015, so this new one had a lot to live up to.
Anyway, enough preamble. Time to judge Biolume Part 1 – In Tartarean Chains on its own merits, of which there are many. Apparently this is the first in a trilogy of albums. I can’t wait to hear the next one already.
Although not as monstrously lengthy as the band’s previous album, there’s still a hefty 72 minutes of material here. This is black metal of its own character, design, and personality. Taking a blackened base and augmenting it with elements of ambient, darkwave, funeral doom and post-black metal, Midnight Odyssey’s brand of atmospheric black metal is stunningly compelling and emotive.
This is a diverse and wide-ranging collection of songs, spanning the aggressive to the tranquil, but always delivered in the context of atmosphere and emotion. As the album progresses a gradual change in mood and tone can be detected, as the songs more readily relinquish their aggressive side in favour of the more atmospheric, emotive, and mournful aspects of the music.
Progressive and orchestral, without ever being overindulgent or self-absorbed, this music is affecting and incredibly immersive; I find it so easy to be transported out of the normal miserable daily world and into the mysterious other places that the artist behind this project creates so well. Beautifully textured and colourfully layered, these songs are well-crafted and take the listener on a highly emotive and engaging journey into Midnight Odyssey’s very individual world.
Well, I should not have been apprehensive about this release at all. It’s hard to truly judge against Shards of Silver Fade, simply because I have had years to explore that multifaceted work. However, this new piece of blackened art is at least as good. And that is high praise indeed.