Spectral Lore - _III_
(I, Voidhanger Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
Black metal music has gone a very long way from its crude, simple beginning represented by its most obvious ambassadors, Darkthrone and Bathory, to this, Spectral Lore's _III_: an album that has everything to do with black metal, and yet, has nothing in common with the aforementioned bands. In barely two and a half decades -- a blink of an eye in historical terms -- black metal has transformed from punk rock oriented simplicity with a hunger for destruction, to a colossal, majestic and highly advanced art form.

The most important asset attributed to black metal has been its insatiable drive for exploration and transcendence through sounds. It has sparked in musicians not only their most earthly, bestial urges later to be embodied in their music, but a never-ending curiosity, a will for experimentation, all converging into the big question that's always been hanging in the air: what more can one accomplish with the sounds of music, where else can it take you and what unconquered lands of mystery have not yet been explored?

Spectral Lore's music is for Darkthrone what classical music is for the music or sounds produced by the cavemen in time immemorial. So advanced, so profound Spectral Lore's compositions are; so volatile and spiritual, they almost defy gravity.

_III_ is the quest for the ultimate musical expression, a radiant and brave endeavor to conquer all turf left uncharted; the zenith of metal's evolution, where no stone has been left unturned, touching and exercising virtually everything the musical palette has to offer, unafraid of going beyond the mundane and the traditional to every corner of the world of ambiances, emotions and aesthetics, validating, for eternity, the sheer power of music and the volumes of creativity of the human mind. Listening to _III_ is like driving a vehicle way past its empty gasoline tank gauge; it's like performing a leap of faith into the dark waters of a basin, hoping for the best: you never know where it will take you to, but you enjoy the trip, never mind the anxiety, excitement and at times the terror you have to endure.

_III_ is a complete work of art, embodying in a single product man's highest abilities. From the gorgeous visual artwork, through the story-telling and exquisite lyrics, to the music.

Ah, the music: _III_ is the collective mind and the spiritual release of the accumulated knowledge, creativity, inspiration and experience artists of the black art of metal music have been gathering and expressing all those years; the culmination of imagination and the masterful enmeshing of so many musical schools; the final frontier, the promised land; the sum of all dreams, fears, wild imagination and an insightful expression of the hidden corners of the human soul.

_III_ ties an unbroken knot between the known world and the world of dreams, but it never sounds earthly enough for balance's sake. If anything, the scale tips towards the dreamy, even hallucinogenic, a portal through which one could escape into realms unknown.

It's no small wonder that this -thing- was created by one musician, the Greek and enigmatic Ayloss, who composed all the music, wrote the lyrics and played all the instruments. His varying stylistic inclinations as well as his thorough knowledge of each style and genre of music he uses are exceptional; he maneuvers between ferociously heavy blast beat-driven black metal to Skepticism-like funeral doom; from progressive rock to death metal and from there to neoclassical or even classical references, Ayloss does all that in one, seemingly effortless sweep, making everything sound coalesced and coherent, plucking yet another string of joy, sadness and despair in your soul, bringing to life visions of nihilism, celestial beauty and divinity.

Don't take _Sol_, the band's previous effort (a joint venture together with US-based band Mare Cognitum) as a point of reference for things to come. Spectral Lore's contribution to that not-bad-at-all split is infinitesimally modest when compared to the juggernaut that is _III_. Make no assumptions and draw not any conclusion from listening to _Sol_ as to how _III_ really sounds. You will be wrong, dead wrong, for _III is a quantum leap from Spectral Lore's previous offering, a quantum leap from anything metal offered us in its infancy and a sure leap from anything metal musicians ever dreamt was even possible to express using rock 'n' roll instruments. But rock 'n' roll it is -- the best rock 'n' roll in town.

This two-disc masterpiece it too vast to be restricted by words or descriptions. This is -music-, the pure expression of harmonious array of sounds, adopting so many sound ethics and stylistic rigors and influences, your head will spin listening to this album from beginning to end. Live, die, love, fuck, cry, fly -- you could accomplish all that -- all at once or one at a time -- while listening to _III_. This music will open your mind, your heart and your eyes; it will give you wings and pummel you into your innermost sanctuaries of the soul.

Contact: http://spectrallore.bandcamp.com/album/iii

(article published 29/12/2014)

12/29/2012 D Lake 6 Spectral Lore - Sentinel
5/21/2009 P Williams 7.5 Spectral Lore - I
3/22/2006 A Marouchos 3.5 Spectral Lore - Spectral Lore
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