Chalice Of Doom - Into Hypnagogia
Label: Memento Mori
Reviewer: Rak Hiasat - 2013-06-18
Highlights: Shaheed, Dyers Of Dusk
I want to start this review with just talking about my middle eastern favorite band in melodic doom/death band field: Chalice Of Doom. Chalice Of Doom is one of the biggest bands of the middle east in the doom metal area, and after releasing "Immemorial Nightfall" many labels have been looking around for inking the band for a deal, because this band is one of those rare cases of threw out an already good debut album and besides this was doing an amazing progress day by day. I think a good deal of this comes from the "strange" conception, that in the metal population this sort of doomy death metal almost entirely ceased to exist around - especially in our region, where most of metal fans stick around death and thrash metal. Chalice Of Doom now took a very huge step releasing their upcoming album "Into Hypnagogia" via Memento Mori records, and am sure its going to be a surprise for every real metal fan.
The album starts with "Lucid Incubus", an epic intro written by Maria Zvyagina (Immensity, Ex-Wine From Tears), with one minute of dark atmosphere. Speaking about the next track "Death Gown" which its one of my favorite in this release its going to take a very long descrbition. So let`s go to the vocals: what a hell of great mixture between Chalice of Doom's Harsh vocalist Fares and Giampaul Andrianopoulos (Lonesome October, Ex-Earthen), the second session member in this outfit. They both handle and managed to deliver the lyrics to my ears as an old tale story, and I couldn't hold on to show how proud i am - especially after listening to Azmo's Arabic clean hymns between the lines. The guitars lines are are close to perfection in this very good production, with stand up bass lines, and the killer guitar tones do not leave me careless. The band found an excellent special tone for them, including their infulences, and the drum-lines are very doomy, mid-tempo and light-touchy what I really love about the band's drumming.
Concerning many situations and different struggles in the middle east, Chalice of Doom decided to do a special track, and so they released their single "Shaheed" ("Martyr") one month ago, with the statement: "The song is dedicated for all those who've lost their spirits for the sake of peace during the last events in the Middle East." The song creates a unique eerie atmosphere by using keyboards and the vocalist’s low deep growl that compliments the slow-paced guitars and drums, and again the mastery arabian clean vocals from Azmo. "Dyers Of Dusk" is a great opener and immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album: melancholic, slow and sorrowful, with standout layers, very somber and dark, and the music actually evokes feelings of hopelessness and depression, and infused with a great deal of keyboards that give the whole song a dramatic feeling. The band knows exactly when to change from a mid-paced tempo, to a devastatingly slow and heavy one and vice versa, and what took my sight in this song were the vocals, again and again.
"Moonflower" is an instrumental track compsosed by Mr. Giampaul, and if I want to describe it, I would say it is as a trip between dreams and sorrow, or between nightmares and hope. I won't be able to choose one, its just another goddess feelings in this release. "Profound" sounds quite one-dimensional on the first minutes, but this time the band were using keyboard to broaden their sound. This had a large effect in the end: Their style in this track was still firmly based upon the first Draconian albums with an obvious touch of early My Dying Bride, but the keyboards gave it an extra romantic atmosphere in help with Mr. Giampaul vocals again.
There are many ways that metal bands can make their music appealing to the listener. The band can incorporate catchy riffs and hooks into their songs. They can dazzle you with their amazing instrumental progress. They can push their music to extremes people never thought were possible. They can attempt to create atmosphere by overusing keyboards and synths and more stuff. But Chalice Of Doom does none of these things on "Against The Winds". Instead, they make music that is dark, monolithic and answers to no one, much like their main influneces style, and here Christina Kroustali (Die Verbannten Kinder Evas) and Marius Strand (The Fall Of Every Season) show up to add more greatness in the atmosphere: With their golden voices in my opinion, really an amazing solid touch of picking the album guests from the band, "Bridesmaid Of The Woods" does not crave your attention. It does not try to make music that is accessible in any way. It will not jump out at you, and force you to listen to it again and again until you get sick of it. No, just like all the greatest treasures, it must be sought out - you must go to it, and only then you will be able to appreciate the subtle beauty that lurks inside the 8-minutes song - and it may take a few listens, or maybe a few hundred.
"The Coin Fountain" its like a welcome back for Christina and Giampaul on vocals, the song is like a written love story about the dark sides of relationship, Something I thought which was very special about this band was their lyrical themes. Yes, they're mostly about love, depression and dark romance, but they were different from what I had seen before. The song is about a girl who is waiting for her love to get back to her arms, and she goes everyday to throw some coins in a fountain as term of luck, and its amazing how Azmo managed the lyrics here to look like a tale, its a deep depressed story, especially when you know that the girl died while she was waiting for her love. Here i want to mention a big thanks for the Flute Arranger "Majd Qewar".
The naming of the tracks of this album seems to be a concept, open to the interpretation "Shame, Written In Blood" . The listener is suddenly drawn into another world totally with the first track until the end. The last track is a very huge track, about 6 minutes long, and it contains dark sound effects with some avant-garde piano lines. It creates a dark but psychedelic atmosphere, as if you were going beyond the realm of existence. Especially featuring one of the biggest metal icons, Rogga Johansson (The 11th Hour, Paganizer, Demiurg, Ribspreader and many more), it contains the same basic elements, but has a completely different feeling. It uses a lot of horns and even more dark atmospheric sound. The horns are played into a somehow-middle-eastern-style, but it collides with the completely different background ambience. Another long track, riffing and drumming here are super-wonderfully performed, and the Outro of this album "Death Apnea" also goes to Maria Zvyagina. And there is really nothing more to say.
My final words would be that this album is recommended for fans of old school and doom/death metal in the vein of early Anathema and Saturnus. The album concludes with its sound a bit more aggressive, they round out what is a very strong release that will not disappoint fans of doom metal in general.