Poema Arcanus - _Iconoclast_
(Aftermath Music, 2002)
by: Alvin Wee (9 out of 10)
While tags like "progressive dark arcane metal" usually refers to a band's distinct lack of character and definition, this underrated Chilean bunch certainly live up to promises, delivering a whopping dark metal surprise from a genre that's been milked to death by naive goth-metal upstarts. With their brand of dark/doom/goth metal reminiscent of the now-defunct Finns Absent Silence, Poema Arcanus weave an entrancing web of progressive arrangements and soaring melody, beautifully dark and captivating while retaining the heavy edge that so many of the newer "dark metal" bands lack. Claudio Carrasco's bewitchingly masculine croon adds the crucial edge to the already stellar musicianship, and carries the entire album marvelously well without the addition of the typical female yodeling. Alternating dense passages with sparse acoustic segments creates an enveloping chiaroscuro that's almost palpable; the band's skillful interplay of light and dark stands out as perhaps the album's defining characteristic, and sets it apart from the countless other single-faceting albums on the shelf. With the right promotion, the band's ear for melody and talent for arrangement should set them on the same level as kings like Katatonia and _Wolfheart_-era Moonspell. This is a release that no fan of dark and atmospheric music should miss, and is certainly Aftermath's best release to date.

(article published 3/7/2002)


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