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Consummatum Est : Hypnagogia

Consummatum Est deliver one of the highlights of 2010 when it comes to atmospheric Funeral Doom.

With their second album Hypnagogia, Italian Consummatum Est deliver one of the highlights of 2010 when it comes to atmospheric Funeral Doom. None of the elements present on this release is new or unique, but what sets this band apart is a very characteristic blend of such elements embedded in compositions and arrangements of exceptionally high quality.

The instrumental work is simple and effective, as it is typical of Funeral Doom. You should not expect any complex guitar work, for instance – the guitars actually rely on basic power chords most of the time. Unlike quite a number of underground projects, Consummatum Est have an actual drummer instead of using a drum machine, and the full sound of the drums is definitely a great advantage here. Other than that, the music often lays a lot of emphasis on synths in the form of rich melodic strings and organ chords. This makes for a slightly symphonic touch and an epic, yet very dark, atmosphere which bears some similarity to bands like Colosseum and especially Shape of Despair, the latter comparison being the more apt when the excellent female backing vocals appear. However, the Italians’ musical vision is decidedly bleaker and eerier than that of their Finnish colleagues.

I do not know their earlier album Funeral Procession in its entirety yet, but judging from the sample track I have heard, female vocals seem to have been a trademark of the band right from the beginning. On this release, though, they are clearly less prominent and used primarily as another atmospheric element in the background. In a sense, this is a pity since it takes away some of the uniqueness of the band’s style, for female lead vocals as intimate and emotional as in the case of Consummatum Est are quite a rarity in Funeral Doom.

As a compensation, there is quite some variation of vocal styles on Hypnagogia. The lead vocals switch between grim growls and blackish shrieks, and both styles are well placed, adding to the overall intensity of the music. Then, there is an outstanding guest vocal appearance from Esoteric’s Greg Chandler on 'Consummatum Est', complete with spacey echo effects akin to his main band. This particular track thus features a total of four different vocalists without sounding over the top. When the opening theme appears again at the end and Chandler’s intense vocals are complemented by the female singing this time, the listener is likely to be overwhelmed by one of the most brilliant moments of Funeral Doom heard in a good while.

The arrangements tend to be fairly complex in comparison to the majority of the genre, and various kinds of breaks keep things interesting. For example, 'Hypnagogic Prospectus' is introduced by acoustic guitars and piano, creating an excellent atmosphere which becomes even more impressive when, later in the song, growls and female vocals take turns over dark synths. The occasional piano synth, by the way, has an excellent sound which is a delight to listen to.

The lyrics are somewhat bizarre and cryptic – whether or not they go well with the mood of the music is left to the individual listener to decide. To top off the very positive impression of this release, it comes with an interesting, well-made cover and nice drawings in the booklet.

The only downside to the album are two passages which come precariously close to Gothic Metal pathos and seem to break the mood. The first of these passages occurs towards the end of 'Hypnagogic Prospectus', whose really intense atmosphere is shamefully compromised. 'Vertebra' contains the second in the form of a baroque cembalo part (combined with soaring soprano vocals) which seems to come right out of nowhere and does not fit the overall picture at all – what is being played is not bad per se, but it might have been more apt to use the fantastic piano sound instead. But this may very well be a matter of taste, after all.

If you enjoy atmospheric Funeral Doom, don’t mind my pickiness for details – this album is a must.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Dolls and Ravens
2. Hypnagogic Prospectus
3. Consummatum Est
4. Vertebra

Duration : Approx. 50 minutes

Visit the Consummatum Est bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-03-19 by Dominik Sonders
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