|Review: Speculum Mortis - 1348|
Label: Griffin Music
Year released: 2006
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: February 14, 2008
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Italy's Speculum Mortis play a Pagan-inspired form of old school Black Metal, and 1348 is based on the plague that decimated Italy and the rest of Europe in that period. The music here is very old school - meaning rather raw and not overpolished, but at the same time the band knows how to get melodic, or more precisely "melancholic" when the song calls for it. The music is accompanied by a good dose of medieval overtones and a few atmospheric interludes which almost make you feel like you went back 700 years into the past - not only that, but the sensation of despair (for lack of a better word) of the events can practically be felt through the speakers. On the first few listens I found that the non-musical parts were a bit long and somewhat unnerving, but once you get into the mood of the album and concept, it all comes together. The vocals are an acquired taste, however. The vocalist uses a rather high-pitched BM screech that you just can't ignore, and I sometimes found myself wishing he'd shut up (such as in "Speculum Mortis"). But then again, the vocals do work with the music and atmosphere here. Just don't expect anything too smooth.
As if the music wasn't enough, the booklet is very well done, including all lyrics, band pics and a few macabre drawings related to the album's concept. 1348 is an interesting piece of Pagan Black Metal that doesn't sound like every other BM album out there, quite worth getting if you're into the genre.
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