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Emancer - "Twilight and Randomness" (CD)

Emancer - "Twilight and Randomness" CD cover image

"Twilight and Randomness" track listing:

1. Randomness (0:59)
2. Dice Man (8:23)
3. The Beast Attacks (4:15)
4. The Pointing Finger (7:52)
5. Comfort Fix (8:09)
6. Twilight (2:25)
7. Cunning Vital Guardian (8:01)
8. Moron (5:33)
9. The Rewarding Schemes (8:01)
10. Winged Omniscience (6:57)

Reviewed by on October 25, 2008

"“Twilight and Randomness” is an apt title for the album, as it’s got the sinister evil feeling of black metal along with the unpredictability of prog and avant-garde metal. "

Besides the rightfully earned title of originator, Norway has lately taken on the mantle of innovator as well. It might still be a frozen and bleak landscape covered by eternal winter, but it knows how to introduce some fire and necessary changes from time to time. The extremely cold style of lower end production black metal has been done to death, so bands in that vein of the genre that want to keep catching people’s attention need to find ways to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. Emancer has handled this dilemma quite solidly, and without sacrificing much of the idealism of their pure black metal roots.

The opening of “Twilight and Randomness” starts off much like many black metal albums before it, with a slowly building background noise that appears to be working towards an explosion of blast beats and screams from the pits of hell. The differences between Emancer and other bands start to come to light during this short introduction, as the sound effects are much more science fiction and technology oriented than the standard evil ritual type of sounds that would normally be used. They also throw in movie voice clips about civilizations being annihilated, instead of what would usually be a chanting or distorted voice invoking the great horned one. The follow up track shifts directly into shrieking black metal growls and a nice heavy guitar riff as would be expected, but less than a minute passes before the real soul of the album shows itself. Odd sound effects, intermittent clean vocals, instruments that play in completely different directions that refuse to follow each other, and a strong 70’s era prog rock grounding all round out the unique style of each of these songs.

“Twilight and Randomness” is an apt title for the album, as it’s got the sinister evil feeling of black metal along with the unpredictability of prog and avant-garde metal. While the name is highly accurate, it isn’t very grabbing or compelling. Maybe it’s a good thing that the band can be so openly honest about what potential listeners are about to hear, and it gives a real feel for how they approach the music in the album, but they could have given themselves a little more underground cred and a much darker feel if they had gone with a more abstract name.

Although the album unquestionably belongs to the more extreme side of the musical spectrum, “Twilight and Randomness” really could be classified as heavy progressive rock. The old school black metal influence can be keenly heard in everything these musicians do, but they have clearly evolved far past that into some new way of crafting sounds together into music. Rather than completely ignoring their heritage, they instead use it as a base to build upon to make something greater. Neither side of the coin every completely takes over the sound or style. The focus is definitely trained on the metal aspects, but the softer electronic side of the album is presented with just as much intensity as the brutal portions. Their ability to switch smoothly between the two different facets is what really makes the album worth listening to, as songs change from something that was plainly constructed to get under the listener’s skin and make them feel something to parts that are just plain weird for the sake of being fun. There would generally be a net loss to the overall music with such frequent transfers, but Emancer pulls it off more often than they don’t.

Listening to each of these songs is basically like going on a long road trip. Those who aren’t ready to ride it all the way out and pay attention to the map will end up completely lost. There is a whole lot to digest in the album, going through the atmospheric rock from a bygone era on “The Pointing Finger,” the bass heavy “The Rewarding Schemes,” the pure black metal fury of “Comfort Fix,” to the quietly emotional piano and keyboard on “Twilight.” The mastery of each individual song is undisputed, but with such a wide array of sounds to wade through it can be tiring to listen to all of them together in one sitting.

Highs: Cold black metal, cool electronic sounds, and a great prog rock feel

Lows: Silly album name, and really getting all of the music will take repeat listens

Bottom line: A progressive and thoroughly unpredictable black metal masterpiece

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)