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Lord Agheros - "Of Beauty And Sadness" (CD)

Lord Agheros - "Of Beauty And Sadness" CD cover image

"Of Beauty And Sadness" track listing:

1. Prayer For A Memory (2:26)
2. The Wave (6:06)
3. The Last Forsaken (4:47)
4. Svart Hemlangtan (4:07)
5. Goodbye (5:30)
6. The Quiet Inside The Storm (3:35)
7. Old Throne (4:54)
8. Dopo La Notte (4:08)
9. Back To Innocence (4:39)
10. Era Iornu (1:37)
11. Dancing in The Dark (3:26)

Reviewed by on August 27, 2010

"...it is important to note that this isn’t Dimmu Borgir. The synth work is the music, and then there happen to be some growls in a few songs, and not the other way around."

The boundaries that define what is and is not metal are always shifting as bands explore ever further into the reaches of music. The third album from Italian solo project Lord Agheros, “Of Beauty and Sadness,” manages to be metal and something else altogether at the same time. The piano-based melodies found on the album are compelling, but they will probably only appeal to a small subset of metal fans who don’t mind a constant depressing atmosphere and almost non-stop symphonic elements.

Lord Agheros has been described as “arcane metal,” “extreme gothic metal,” and other identifiers that try to distinguish the music from symphonic black metal. While those tags aren’t exactly what “Of Beauty and Sadness” really sound like, it is important to note that this isn’t Dimmu Borgir. The synth work is the music, and then there happen to be some growls in a few songs, and not the other way around.

In many ways, the album seems more like the score to a movie than a metal album. The songs each have a specific idea that plays out during their run times, and most deal with gloomy material. It almost seems like Lord Agheros started with pictures in his head of specific movie scenes, like a sad goodbye or a protagonist standing in the rain, and then crafted music to match them. In one track he even uses a sample from “Closer,” featuring Nathalie Portman telling Jude Law that she’s not in love with him anymore, to directly say what story the music is telling. The album feels like the soundtrack to a film that will never be made, which is both intriguing and kind of sad.

While each song generally has all the right elements in place to get its idea across, the entire album does suffer from a lack of cohesion. The opening track is composed entirely of ethnic eastern sounds and a chanted Islamic prayer. While using that sort of mechanism in an album can lead to some amazing melding of metal and traditional sounds, here it’s just a one trick pony. Nothing sounding even remotely similar ever appears again for the entire duration of the disc. It’s a bit like having a full-length opening piano track on a Cannibal Corpse album.

The middle songs all stick to a vaguely familiar theme, but then the consistency takes a hit again in “Back to Innocence,” when the heartwarming sound of children playing and giggling comes out of the speakers. That might have worked in the movie scene this song was supposed to accompany, but it’s severely out of place on an album that’s marketed to black metal fans. The final few tracks then leave any semblance of growling vocals behind, and use operatic Italian female vocals.

“Of Beauty and Sadness” tries to be several different things at once, and as such it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Metal fans who like to hear long instrumental and atmospheric interludes while trudging through the rain will dig it, but anyone looking for symphonic black metal had best look elsewhere.

Highs: Moving piano melodies, lots of interesting background sounds, the black metal vocals are well meshed in the music.

Lows: Suffers from lack of cohesion, and some of the samples are just out of place.

Bottom line: A gloomy synth-based album that is much more "symphonic" than it is "black metal."

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)