This has been a long awaited release for me– definitely my most anticipated of this year. Thulcandra is Steffen Kummerer’s (of Obscura fame) side project. Theyare a Dissection tribute band in a way, but instead of simply doing cover songs, they choose to continue the sound that made Dissection famous. This is true swedish black/death metal to the frozen unbeating heart.
The first album “Fallen Angel’s Dominion” is a perfect copy of this sort of music, from the actual content to the album artwork, which is painted by the same artist, Kristian “Necrolord” Wahlin. The artwork itself matches Dissection’s perfectly. The album even features Thulcandra’s interpretation of “The Somberlain”. It is as if Kummerer was so upset by the ending of his favorite band he just said “fuck it”, and made more Dissection albums.
This is very nice if this sort of music is your thing, and Dissection is one of the most important black metal bands that have existed. Thulcandra do not just rip the music off; instead, they compose amazing songs that are incredibly well written and I firmly believe Jon Nödtveidt is pleased in whatever netherworld he currently resides.
Where the first album was a continuation of this sound, “Under a Frozen Sun” builds upon and progresses it to a sound that is far less dated. Some of the guitar melodies on this album are so beautiful… it really is a shame that we are so far down in the metal substructure, and most people, even metal fans, will not get to hear it. The guitar tone also sells a large portion of this album because it reflects the era from which this band draws its influence, but with a contemporary clarity.
Few albums have I heard that weave a perfect tapestry of cohesive and interesting sounds that carry one through dramatic and colorful journeys. These songs fill ancient hallways and massive dusky tombs with spiralling engravings in a foreing tongue. It is as if many aeons ago these melodies echoed through ice filled chambers, telling tales of empires fallen and risen across a barren permafrosted wasteland. Thulcandra possess a particular talent that only a few bands I have heard truly master, and that is creating riffs with personality and diversity that tell stories without vocals. Immolation’s “Majesty and Decay” is another such album full of these melodious riffs.
Thulcandra manages to achieve a level of memorabillity on this album. They create songs with hooks and catchy choruses that get stuck in your head without annoying sing along side effects. The despair filled title track mourns slowly over hills and valleys of windy snow covered plains. It’s a beautiful motion filled black metal slow song.
“Aeons of Darkness” is my favorite song on the whole album. It should be a timeless black metal anthem for years to come. The chorus to this track is a captivating and commanding mid-tempo sermon of screamed vocals that tell of epic warfare and destruction. This song even rivals Immortal’s “Tyrants” in cold nihilistic black metal bliss. The fact that Steffen Kummerer can write music this amazing for this genre as well as for his main band Obscura blows my mind.
Following the same album arrangement as “Fallen Angel’s Dominion,” this album also closes with a cover song of a true swedish metal band that is a clear influence. Opting to step away from the Dissection obsession for a few minutes, the album ends with a rendition of Unanimated’s “Life Demise.” I actually had not heard of them prior to discovering they were being covered on this album. I listened to the original a few times as well as the rest of the album it comes from, and the cover version is true to it.
Thulcandra is very much like Bloodbath(Swe) in that they began as a tribute to a genre that influenced the practitioners; however, now that the band has explored the path of mimicry, they are now further driven to build upon this foundation. Some people may complain that this is simply “ripping off” the original artist, but this is an igonorant claim that completely misses the point.
If you are in anyway a fan of black metal of the Swedish variety, you owe it to yourself to check this out. “Under a Frozen Sun” not only emulates the spirit of Dissection, Unanimated and Sacramentum, but improves upon the legacy they have left behind, enhancing and perfecting it into the hardened obsidian blade that will cut through the underground of black metal and show both posers and elitists how black metal is done properly and without compromises.
-Chaz 10/2/2011 10:45pm