Penitent - _The Beauty of Pain_
(Draenor Productions, 1997)
by: Henry Akeley (7 out of 10)
Draenor Productions is a new division of Austria's Napalm Records (home of superb bands like Abigor, Summoning, Setherial, and Dismal Euphony). Based on this first release, I'm guessing that Draenor will specialize in the Dark Ambient and ritual music that has attracted quite a bit of interest from metal musicians and fans these days. Penitent, you see, are a former Cold Meat Industry act who specialize in morose, atmospheric keyboard pieces built up around icy recitations of somber poetry. Asbjorn Log handles the music, while Karsten Hamre performs the "Mad Poetry Declamations." My respects to Asbjorn, because much of the music on this CD is quite spellbinding. It's fairly minimalist, often just a single, echoing piano with (or without) a quiet synth background and thundering tympanic percussion. Opener "Autumn is the Beauty of Pain" begins with this simple framework, gradually adding accents and emotion to what becomes a galloping anthem, vigorous and sad. There's some grimly beautiful music on this release, displaying genuine compositional talent. However, the poetry component is not quite so enjoyable, because the delivery is rather unimaginative. The lyrics are simply recited in a deadpan, accented voice. In a way, this works to accentuate the music's somber mood, but it can also sound a bit corny, and it definitely would have been cool to try out some effects, instead of just flatly talking into the mike. Still, I enjoy this, and some of the musical passages are just splendid. Is it metal? Of course it isn't. The point is, it's music intended to capture and create many of the same atmospheres and emotions that bands who do play metal are also trying to evoke. (Especially doom metal, in this case.)

(article published 16/3/1997)

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