Various - _To Magic..._
(Prophecy Productions, 1999)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8 out of 10)
As far as compilations go, Prophecy Productions have put together a highly interesting release which shows that their roster is growing rapidly and incorporating plenty of quality. The compilation is organized in such a way that the even-numbered songs are generally acoustic, with only one exception (track eight, which ended up being my favourite). Plenty of variety here, but mostly kept within an unifying spirit. The first three bands on the compilation are probably the most well-known: In the Woods..., Empyrium and Bethlehem. ItW, who recently signed to Prophecy after the demise of Misanthropy Records, are represented with "Karmakosmik" from their new _Epitaph_ 7" EP (the third and last of their 7" EP series). This doesn't really subtract much from the interest of the EP, which is mainly intended for collectors anyway, and does increase the interest of the compilation. It's a long, emotional and melancholic song, and somehow pretty much what I expected to find here from ItW. Apparently this fine track was recorded in the _Omnio_ [CoC #25] era. Empyrium are perhaps the band that ended up more poorly represented, as the chosen track was taken from their acoustic album _Where at Night the Wood Grouse Plays_ [CoC #42]. A good song, but hardly a great example of Empyrium's music; so why not a normal track from _Songs of Moors & Misty Fields_ [CoC #30]? That would have been far more representative of their music. Next is Bethlehem, another new band on Prophecy's roster, but their new material sounds very mediocre to me. Vastly different from the music found on past releases, "Von Bittersuessem Suizid" features clean singing, some easy guitar and vocal lines and generally makes me think of goth rock. Get the picture? Clearly the worst track here, and also the most disappointing one if this really is their new style (which apparently is the case). Tenhi follow with their dark folk: acoustic guitars, clean male vocals, percussion and what appears to be a distant background keyboard. Quite good, but somewhat repetitive. Blazing Eternity increase the interest level again, though. Reminiscent of _Brave Murder Day_-era Katatonia, but able to mix those influences with other elements, their contribution promises a very interesting full-length if they can keep up the quality level. Next is possibly the strangest band on the compilation: Coven. Often fast and mostly repetitive acoustic guitar in the background, some percussion and -intense- vocals. The man speaks, sings, screams, weeps... the image left on my mind is of someone locked up in a room, inside an asylum, with a wintry landscape on the window, feverishly walking around, talking to himself, surrounded by ghosts who are taking away the remains of his sanity. Autumnblaze take us back to metal, more specifically melodic doom, not too far from Paragon of Beauty (another Prophecy band). Both harsh and doomy clean vocals, good sad melodies and attempts at variety; their album may well be interesting. What comes next is the gem of this compilation: Sun of the Sleepless. This -really- impressed me -- so much that I immediately sought their _Poems to the Wretches' Hearts_ MCD [also reviewed in this issue]. This particular song is a remix of the opening track from that MCD, and it is quite simply the first remix ever to blow me away. This is a sad, melancholic black metal dirge of the highest quality. Schwadorf masterfully transformed the original fast track into a -much- slower and atmospheric song, literally dripping with black sadness, alternating between deeply melancholic passages and slow, painful, dirgeful, yet harsh black sections. Only lyrics and the essence of certain passages remain from the original. This specific track is not part of the aforementioned MCD, however; instead, it will be featured in a forthcoming 7" EP. Well, practically any track after this one would be rather hopeless, but the Drawn song is actually rather poor by itself, despite contribution of Jan Svithjod, the In the Woods... vocalist. Very standard, unremarkable metal until halfway through the song, which then tries to sound like ItW. Inconsistent and uninteresting. Next, Naervaer, who are rather hard to label, but with acoustics (including what appears to be a cello) and both male and female vocals, they create an excellent emotional dark atmosphere. Both vocalists tend to remind me of In the Woods..., and the atmosphere isn't very far from ItW, either; very good. Nox Mortis play very decent, though not especially innovative or remarkable, doom/death. Gods Tower follow with a track that sounds more like an intro than anything else. Finally, Paragon of Beauty end this fine compilation with "To My Unfading Sorrow", taken from their forthcoming MCD. A very good song, actually doomier than their previous material; melodic, sorrowful and overall more interesting than before. _To Magic..._ therefore contains plenty of quality material, half a dozen really good songs, a couple of tracks from 7" EPs, some unreleased material and quite a few tracks from new or unknown bands. As usual with compilations, _To Magic..._ also contains some weaker tracks, which prevents a higher rating, but it will apparently be available for quite a low price, making it even more interesting.

Contact: Prophecy Productions, Kurfuerstenstrasse 5,

(article published 15/1/2000)

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