Scholomance - _A Treatise on Love_
(The End, 1998)
by: Brian Meloon (
Scholomance were the band that impressed me the most on The End Records' _Until the End of Time_ compilation [CoC #31], and this album, while it didn't quite live up to my expectations, is excellent. The album has a sound comparable to bands like Emperor, Cradle of Filth, and Arcturus, but this is not black metal; Scholomance are really a prog metal band at heart. Their music features the winding song structures, long instrumental sections, complexity, and (a few sections of) over-indulgent musical showmanship that is more common of bands like Dream Theater than Emperor. The tempos and styles that they use are varied and the songs generally flow very well. They even throw in the occasional sample here and there. They make good use of melody (including some eastern melodies), harmony, and dissonance, avoiding using any of the three in a predictable or formulaic way. The playing is very good on all counts. Keyboards are used liberally, both as atmosphere and as an equal to the guitars, taking a few solos and leading a few sections all by themselves. The playing is excellent; not virtuoso level, but dense and complex. The vocals are rasped like black metal, but don't sound out of place with the more progressive music. Although the drums are handled by a drum machine, the programming is excellent. It's clear that a lot of work went into programming them, as they utilize a lot of different sounds, and there are a variety of different fills thrown in throughout the album. Quite frankly, the drum programming is more interesting than most human drummers I've heard. The rhythm guitar work is very good, but the leads are the weak part of the album for me. Compared to the rest of the music, they sound cheap and generally inappropriate. I find the phrasing awkward and they seem to meander without a sense of direction. The production is very good: clear and powerful. The band has a unique sound, and it takes some getting used to at first, but every time I've listened to this, I've picked up something new; there really is a lot going on. This is highly recommended for fans of the more "high brow" side of black metal or the heavier side of prog metal.
(article published 16/1/1999)
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