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Review: Gaerea - Limbo

Label: Season of Mist
Year released: 2020
Duration: 51:44
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.75/5

Review online: September 1, 2020
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating

Rated 4.63/5 (92.5%) (8 Votes)

Gaerea has become something of an icon in underground Black Metal. After receiving a lot of attention for the superlative Unsettling Whispers, they embarked on a massive tour that made their name well known in most circles, so it's no surprise that there was a lot of hype surrounding this release. What is surprising is that a scant two years later, they've released a follow-up that both serves as a logical evolution of their sound and comes within a hair of being as good as what came before it.

The base of Limbo should be familiar to fans of their previous work. It's still the ferocious blending of Behemoth-style intensity with Mgla's sense of mood and melody, only now the compositions are significantly denser and the atmosphere more encompassing. Their musicianship was always top-notch, with shimmering tremolo riffs that often resound like bells and eye-popping drumming that rivals that of Darkside's, but now they display much more light and shade than before, allowing them to build tension more subtly and expand their songs to monstrous lengths without feeling like they waste a second of it. They have sacrificed a bit of their heaviness to achieve this, and I find myself missing it enough to consider this album less enjoyable overall, but that's mostly me splitting hairs, as the deceptive depth of songs like the massive opener "To Aina" and the wrathful "Urge" display a mastery of craft and seriousness of intent that few bands could even dream of mustering.

I initially found this album to be thin and underwhelming, but repeated listens have revealed it for the uncompromising monolith of anguish and despair that it is. Anyone who seriously cares about Black Metal as a genre and hasn't listened to them yet needs to give this band their immediate attention, because the more I listen to Limbo, the more I think I was correct in calling this band one of the next driving forces for the genre. Among the year's best.

Other related information on the site
Review: Gaerea (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Review: Unsettling Whispers (reviewed by Mjölnir)
Interview with Gaerea on September 5, 2020 (Interviewed by Mjölnir)
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