Lux Occulta - _The Mother and the Enemy_
(Maquiavel, 2002)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
Most discs on the market today tend to fit snuggly into some category or another, or else sound like a combination of a couple of styles. Of course some other albums go a bit further in terms of experimentation and avantgarde tendencies as well, with greatly varying degrees of success. However, after five years of reviewing music for CoC, still once in a long time a record comes along that leaves me quite bewildered by its sheer complexity and uniqueness. Lux Occulta's fourth full-length effort _The Mother and the Enemy_ is one such record. It is perhaps useful to mention at this point that Lux Occulta have always tended to be a rather unique band, with the possible exception of their second album _Dionysos_. But saying that _The Mother and the Enemy_ simply builds upon what experimentation could be found on its predecessor _My Guardian Anger_ [CoC #48] is quite an understatement. It might even appear that way until track five, though. The first three tracks after the brief intro (titled "Breathe In") show you what you will believe to be the new Lux Occulta -- that is until "Yet Another Armageddon" comes along to start proving that you were only seeing the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Those initial tracks, in their uniquely jagged, jazzy and progressive extreme metal style, resemble a reasonably expectable follow-up to _My Guardian Anger_: more inventive, even if overall slightly less powerful, but still very dynamic. Then "Yet Another Armageddon" arrives, with sombre, ethereal female chanting, atmospheric sound effects and a background beat, not entirely dissimilar to a very dark Portishead. This track really comes as one of the most surprising moments I can remember coming across in a long time while listening to an album for the first time, in the sense that it is so damn unexpected -- and very good as well. "Gambit" then contributes to the mix a more electronic/industrial-sounding broken dirge that brought to my mind some elements of Thorns. Not bad at all, but a bit too long. And then, when you expected Lux Occulta's more "normal" style to return, "Midnight Crisis" instead goes back to the dark, melancholic female-led style akin to "Yet Another Armageddon", completing a remarkable 16 minute long intermezzo that seems almost unrelated to the rest of the album, and yet somehow manages to fit in nicely. Only afterwards does the style found in the early tracks reappear, in the form of "Pied Piper" and "Missa Solemnis". The latter goes into an ambient-esque passage midway through, combining ghostly chants with varied sound effects and what sounds to me like a saxophone in the background -- but that is just an example of the kind of unpredictable creativity you will find in this record. "Breathe Out" then melancholically closes the album with more atmospheric beats, saxophone and female vocals. The jazzy touches, the ambient passages, the electronic innuendos, all combined with Lux Occulta's vibrant extreme metal and the more subdued parts with female vocals, result in one of the most original albums I have come across in a very long time indeed. The production on the metal tracks is a bit disappointing, and all the complexity and variety may become somewhat tiresome on occasion; but after sufficient listens, _The Mother and the Enemy_ can also become a very enjoyable collection of music, as long as you are able to take in a lot of different styles being skillfully performed and blended into quite a unique album.


(article published 12/4/2002)

10/25/2000 P Azevedo Lux Occulta: Re-Constructing a Pocket-Size Universe
8/12/2000 P Azevedo 9 Lux Occulta - My Guardian Anger
3/10/1998 P Azevedo 9 Lux Occulta - Dionysos
3/16/1997 P Azevedo 9 Lux Occulta - Forever Alone. Immortal.
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