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Sadael : Dreams

It's taken some while to puzzle out what exactly is being crafted on Sadael's latest, and why.

Hang around the fringes of extreme music long enough, and you'll come across bands from all sorts of unusual and far-flung places: Sadael comprising just over one-tenth of the active Metal bands listed for Armenia (although it has now apparently relocated to St. Petersburg). With a scene that small to draw upon, it may not be a shock to discover the original project was primarily a solo one, named after the multi-instrumentalist behind it. Having initially charted a path that steered through Dark Ambient/Black Metal territory and thence into Funeral Doom, 'Dreams' sees an arrival at what new label Endless Winter describes as "atmospheric death/doom metal with neoclassical elements".

I guess I'd concur with that description - although there's a case for giving 'atmospheric' a less prominent position, it's certainly moved into more uptempo and aggressive territory that leaves the Funeral tag behind. It's also not entirely solo, this time, with lyrics co-written by V (Aura Hiemis) and guest vocals by Vladimir Melikyan (who also plays in Disfinite with Sadael).

In amongst a back catalogue of demos, splits and limited editions, 2010 saw two almost-simultaneous full-length label releases: contrastingly, the grim, raw 'Essence' and the lush, keyboard-laden 'Diary Of Loss'. It is the latter sound that 'Dreams' builds upon, taking the same dramatic, sometimes almost histrionic, interplays between keyboard and guitar, alternating clean and growled vocals and backed by functional drumming as a partial template. The remainder is constructed from fairly frequent shifts that unleash distorted, brutal guitar, harsh growls and shrieks and rapid-fire drum blasts.

Much like the cover art, it's taken some while to puzzle out what exactly is being crafted here, and why. The artwork: a left hand, reaching towards the light...with five fingers and a thumb. Intentional surreality, or flawed execution? One could ask the same question of the music, which is described as "...romantic and emotional...embodied dreams, mixed with reality, lyrical reflections on love, about loss...". And, in some respects, it is: those aspects are captured, and captured well, with a certain theatrical air - there is often little doubt of the emotion it is meant to evoke in the listener - evident in the clean sections of vocals and guitar, each of which convey a sorrowful, resigned sadness. So, too, in the keyboard, whether in background as quiet piano melodies or coming forward for more sweepingly symphonic arrangements, or even simulated orchestral instruments. Yet the transitions, chaotic and and dislocating as they may be, are neither the hazy stuff of nightmares or the starkness of reality. Instead, they are muscular outbursts of squalling violence: polar contrasts to the soaring, atmospheric and ambient passages around them. Not flawed, exactly, for it is all well within the parameters and expectations of the genre, but with the harsh interjections only partially capturing any mood redolent of dream or romance and equally falling a little short of reflecting the philosophical introversion of the included lyrics.

That said, if the distracting conceptual baggage of the intention is set aside, what remains is the actuality of a well-produced, decently-packaged and vibrant Death/Doom work occasionally marred by overly-thumping drum machine blasts and abrupt discords (cf. the closing section of 'Dreams'), but more often enhanced by clever and varied use of keyboard (as in 'Purple Mantis'). The extended presence of the latter gives it some distance from other bands who work in a similarly mixed emotive-yet-also-harsh vein - Revelations Of Rain, or perhaps The Fall Of Every Season, for example - but focus more on guitar for gentler passages. The end result is not entirely consistent but nonetheless intriguing: by no means essential, it still accomplishes enough to be worthy of notice and attention. Highlights: the triplet of 'Dark Glowing', 'Purple Mantis' and 'Rain, Wash My Tears'.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Dreams
2. Dark Glowing
3. Purple Mantis
4. Rain, Wash My Tears
5. Waves
6. Love Overdose
7. Bring Back The Sun
8. Inner Circle

Duration : Approx. 45 minutes

Visit the Sadael bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-01-02 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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