Strommoussheld - _Behind the Curtain_
(Avantgarde Music, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (8 out of 10)
With so many fundamental trademarks in common, it should come as no surprise to see the marked increase in black metal bands utilising the cold, mechanistic venom of industrial in their work. But where bands like Aborym and Red Harvest focus on unhinged rage, Poland's Strommoussheld instead explore the more bombastic, operatic side of the spectrum -- with surprisingly enjoyable results. An album that seemingly gets better with each successive track, _Behind the Curtain_ is a bold collection of experimental, dark and impressively structured malice, at times hinting at records like Samael's _Ceremony of Opposites_. The swirling fourteen minute epic that is "Restless Souls" stands out as the record's primary highlight, and aptly pinpoints the three-piece's immense potential and keen sense of melody and depth. Unfortunately let down by a production effort that at times lets the music sound a little thin -- when it's striving to be anything but -- Strommoussheld know and rely heavily upon their aforementioned strengths, blending their influences with the subtlety of seasoned veterans. Even on the rare occasions when a section appears a tad drawn out or when Maels' spoken vocals become annoying ("Deception" being a fine example), the band manage to easily make up for such flaws by throwing enough at the listener to keep him/her hooked. If anything, _Behind the Curtain_ provides ample proof that Poland is capable of producing more than just death metal.

(article published 9/7/2003)

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