Scholomance - _The Immortality Murder_
(The End, 2002)
by: Brian Meloon (
Scholomance's second album is a rather ambitious effort, a 2-CD concept album. The first disc is similar in style to their debut [CoC #36]: a fusion of the styles of early Dream Theater and later Emperor. The vocals are black metal style raspy screams, and the music is progressive metal played with a melodic black metal aesthetic. Their progmetal roots poke through this black metal facade in a few places, such as keyboard solos and tones and their flair for flashy and flamboyant instrumental sections. In general, the music is layered and complex, and it takes a few listens to really start to get a handle on. Once you do, you'll find that the music is generally quite good and surprisingly memorable. The playing is generally very good, which is remarkable given the technicality of the material. However, there is a big problem with the music, and it's the same one that hampered their debut: the guitar solos. They sound cheap, the playing is sometimes embarrassingly sloppy or inappropriate, and the tone is terrible. It's a very hollow, Strat-like tone, and it's much louder than the other instruments. This might not be so bad if the rest of the music wasn't completely different. The rhythm guitars have a very tight, solid tone, and the music as a whole has a solid, compressed feel. Atop this background, the guitar solos stick out like sore thumbs. The second disc contains instrumental versions of some of the tracks from the first disc and some solo piano interludes. The piano interludes are completely improvised and uncut, which means that they meander about aimlessly, and are occasionally sloppy. Those who don't have a problem with black metal vocals will therefore find little in the second disc to interest them. But it is interesting to hear de-vocalized versions of the songs, and the complexity of the music is such that the songs hold up pretty well as instrumentals. Overall, this is a good offering, but with a little work on the production, could have been even better. [Aaron McKay: "Penetrating like so many cryptic stares from the uneducated, Scholomance is the epitome of masterful showmanship. Skillful, but incredibly powerful arrangements complicate this double disc set in such a way that your mind thirsts to swallow the ingenuity whole! The intricacies of this woven progressive orchestration are transcended only by the material itself. Disc one's four movements, followed stupendously by four more un-numerated tracks, seek to overpower the listener with all but too much skillful radiance. Words fail to wholly encompass Scholomance, but the second CD remains in a class by itself. If I were forced, and I do mean -forced-, to put a term to this music phenomenon, I'd call Scholomance "progressively complex aristocrat metal". Coming from a true fan crossing the Viking Crown to Epoch of Unlight void, Scholomance more than satisfies!"]
(article published 4/12/2002)
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