Limbonic Art - Phantasmagoria (Candlelight/Earsplit)

One of the most prominent names of the so-called Norwegian Black Metal is back with another opus. Phantasmagoria is what black metallers pompously like to call True Norwegian Black Art. Indeed, it is. But if you’re awaiting another Moon in The Scorpio, you’ll not find it here.

Limbonic Art, a name so recognized amongst the admirers of Norwegian scene, came to the forefront of Black Metal in the 1990s, with a mix of melodic dark music, a handful of keyboard insertions, and, occasionally, atmsopheric songs. After disbanding for a short while, they came back in 2007 with the album Legacy of Evil, not so different from their early works. But Phantasmagoria brings this band – rather, a one-man-band, since Morfeus was fired – with a rawer sound, economic and low pitched keyboards (once again with the controversal 'Drum Programming'), but with a faster approach. It is still melodic and melancholic, but way more aggressive. All of these elements are skillfully handled by the original member Daemon.

The first track, which gives its name to the album, bring us the riffs that had made the happiness (or sadness, depending on you TRUE point of view) of the first generation of Scandinavian black metallers. If any reference is needed, think about Satyricon's albums Dark Medieval Times and Shadowthrone.

Crypt Of Bereavement is not different, but this time brings another Norwegian name to mind: Emperor (of the In the Nightside Eclipse). The track alternates between ultra-fast electronic beats/riffage and meloncholic moments.

By the way, this electronic approach of the CD give us a breeze of Mysticum (the classic industrial Black Metal band from – surprise – NORWAY!!). Even if this was not the intention of Daemon.

The track Dark Winds is the most melancholic moment in the album. This atmosphere of hate and desolation continues on the next track A World In Pandemonium, only to be disrupted two minutes later by a storm of fast and brutal music again.

The weak factor in this CD resides in the production (really, not the best in the world) and the cadence of the songs. Although it alternates from melancholy to fast moments, then from fast moments to melancholy, this is all that happens in Phantasmagoria in the entirely of its 71 minutes. It must be extremely boring to neophytes, but an orgasm to cultists of the old Norwegian art.

The last track, called Astral Projection, is the best one, and the most “singalong”, if I’m allowed to use this word in this context.

Phantasmagoria is a monument to the first wave of Norwegian Black Metal (but not to the first Limbonic Art albums). Odd as it can be, this album is a must-have for the old-schoolers out there.

Phantasmagoria is out now on Candlelight/Earsplit.