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Autumnia : Two Faces Of Autumn (Compilation)

An absolutely essential re-release of Autumnia's long out-of-print first two albums.

'Two Faces of Autumn' is an archival release bringing together the first two Autumnia albums in one set, namely 2004's 'In Loneliness of Two Souls' and 2006's 'By the Candles Obsequial'. Both records are long out of print and very hard to come by, meaning this collection will be warmly received by fans of the bands more widely available third album 'O'Funeralia' (2009) – and those fans may be many as all three albums were very well received by fans and critics alike upon their original release. The CD package itself is quite nice, simple line drawings of autumn leaves on a glossy black background that is fitting both to the band, and to the late October day on which I write this review. The only slightly irritating thing is the fact that the digipack trays simply refuse to hold the CD's and every time I go to take one out, both disc inevitably fall out. Count me firmly in the 'Digipacks suck' camp...

From the very start of debut album 'In Loneliness of Two Souls' it is apparent what subgenre we are dealing with here, as images of early My Dying Bride and Anathema are instantly evoked. I have to say I find that the album does not put its best foot forward with opener 'By Your Hand' relying a little too much on repetition of a single riff for the four or five minutes, with some not entirely convincing violin emulation. Things improve about halfway in and the breadth and depth of the band's strengths begin to shine through. I had not heard this record before writing the review, despite it having being out for over a decade, and this possibly means I am being slightly harsher in my evaluation than I would be if I wasn't immediately comparing it with the band's later output. On balance it is a fine example of the genre, and if I had heard it in isolation as the band's debut and only record I would probably state that it left me interested to see where the band progressed from here.

'By the Candles Obsequial' is indeed a progression in the band's sound, with more variety of elements, especially the addition of occasional female vocals, which, although a bit of a clichéd way for a band of this ilk to diversify, is tried and tested and certainly works. More noticeable for me is the much expanded role that keyboards have to play. The liner notes state that an additional guest musician was involved on 'piano and synthesizer effects' which may explain this. Certainly the keyboards are a cut above those found on the debut, really standing out rather than being a bit of a background/textural element. The general level of both song writing and production also seems improved and really puts 'By the Candles Obsequial' up there in the elite category within the genre.

All in all this has to go down as an absolutely essential release for anybody into this kind of Melodic Death/Doom who does not own both albums. I personally feel that 'By the Candles Obsequial' is a masterpiece of the genre, and whilst 'In Loneliness of Two Souls' does not quite reach the same heights for me, it stands alone as a quality record in its own right, as well as a good contextual point of reference when viewing the bands progression. Sadly the band have released nothing new since 2009, but perhaps the renewed interest generated by this release will spark something. I certainly hope so.

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Reviewer's rating: 9.5/10


Tracklist :
CD1 'In Loneliness of Two Souls':
1. By Your Hand
2. Before Leave For Ever
3. In Sorrow And Solitude
4. At Eternal Parting
5. Pray For Me...
6. Into The Grave...
CD2 'By the Candles Obsequial':
7. Increasing The Grief Terrestrial
8. With Wailing And Lament
9. Bitterness Of Loss
10. ...And The Life Dies Away
11. In Loneliness Of Two Souls

Duration : Approx. 104 minutes

Visit the Autumnia bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-11-01 by Kris Clayton
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