Decemberance - _Inside_
(I for an I Records, 2010)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8 out of 10)
Cairo isn't a city that's known for its cold weather; it's quite the opposite, actually. But when the cold winds start blowing through this one thousand year old hometown of mine, I always find myself fancying some darker and more atmospheric tunes. The more somber tunes somehow sound more appealing in the cold weather, and that is exactly the case with Decemberance's _Inside_. The musical arrangements sound like there has been a lot of time and effort put into them. The vocals on the slow sections are as guttural and crushing as it gets, and the cello sections (yes, there's a cello) are absolutely breathtaking.

Taking us listeners on a journey of musical diversity and experimentation is the prevalent objective behind _Inside_, and its fingerprints are all over it. "Time", the first of only six tracks, has elements of doom, chugging death metal riffage and a brief, quasi-black metal section all in a little over five minutes, leaving almost ten more minutes under its tally. The piano and the cello combine masterfully on "Rain" to craft together a somber portrait that will have us coming back to it time and time again. The third number "Anxiety Grasps Our Perspective" deviates completely from the epic norm and favors a very stripped down old-school death metal approach; while it sounds refreshing stuck between the extended works of doom 'n' gloom, its quality remains questionable.

The longest and ending track "Premonition" erupts for an opening minute with riffing and drumming that's reminiscent of Behemoth's _The Apostasy_, but that's short-lived. It gives way to a clean segment and then the doom kicks back in with a palpable compressive force. More moments of intensity come to the fore as the haunting organ of "A Common Winter" creeps in on a viscous discourse, which is then upset by a rumbling alarm clock followed by a crafty death metal riff à la mid-'90s Gothenburg style, and then an ugly blasting segment with a sublime keyboard background. All these musical movements and adventures alongside the fact that the vocals are handled by the drummer make _Inside_ an even more impressive record.

Creativity, as one dear friend of mine once said, is available in multitudes in the underground music scene. And though he doesn't have my natural affinity for extreme metal, I find myself remembering his words as I listen to this positively surprising offering from this expansive group of Athenians. There's a lot of musical maturity and tightness on offer here, and spreading it over 68 minutes hardly falls short. _Inside_ is a brilliant album through which a talented group of individuals take us on a ride that's overflowing with the many emotions their music conjures.


(article published 15/1/2011)

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