Metal Coven review


Well, well, what do we have here? Usually before listening to a band, I do not just make assumptions based off of somebody else’s opinions or thoughts…but the reviews I’ve seen had been pretty much unanimous in declaring extremely high ratings for the first album. So, naturally I was slightly intrigued, if not impressed by the already stellar reputation the band had after producing only one album thus far. What really kept me on edge was the fact that during reading about them I found that they are not in fact a “they” at all, but instead more of a “he”. A one man death metal band? I’ve heard plenty of one man black metal and doom metal bands, but never in the death metal quadrant. That’s a fairly new one on me. So without further ado, I slipped in Simulacrum and hoped for the best.

Straight from the starting blocks, I realized this is going to be something fresh and interesting. At first glance, his style appears to be a gloomier Opeth…but there’s so much more beneath that. He tosses in technical guitar riffs, almost Beherit-esque vocals, and manages to still seem tranquil and distilled at the same moment. Never thought you’d hear “Beherit” and “tranquil” in the same sentence did you? Neither did I, but hey, there’s a first time for everything. Another odd quality of this music it that it has a certain atmosphere within it that I’ve never felt before. It’s unique and nicely done, but what makes it even cooler is the fact that I’ve finally heard a death metal band which actually has an atmosphere and isn’t all about brutality and technicality. That’s a nice change of pace in my book.

Honestly though, I think it’s unfair to merely call this album “death metal”. It has a powerful doom drive with dabs of black metal placed carefully into the blender until it comes out as smooth or chunky as Mr. Tomsett chooses. At times, some riffs sound derivative of something straight off of an Arsis album, but most of the time it will delve into something darker and more brooding…something almost early period Katatonia like. That is HUGE plus for me seeing as Katatonia is my favorite band to ever surface in the doom metal genre. As for the programmed drums…I can’t complain. They sound good enough to hold their own, but don’t pack the true punch they deserve and should contain on an album like this. In my opinion, he should concentrate more on being a complete band (or even just adding a drummer, look how it well it went in Diabolical Masquerade!) or just learn the drums (I’m not saying it’s easy to pick up, mind you, just that it would sound better and feel more accomplished).

A man only known as “Bleakmage” provides almost the entirety of the lyrics here, with the slim exception of two tracks. They aren’t as deep or well thought out as I’d hoped, but they get across a nice grim image in my head every time. The way he emphasizes certain words just makes the vocals jump out and grab you by the throat sometimes, and it’s a scary good experience when he doesn’t let you go! For best results listen to The Hidden Epidemic, and the chorus from Voice from the Head. Both are intense and awesome aural exposures that are sure to please any fan of theirs or for that matter anyone who listens to the damn album. Even the instrumental is extremely unique and heartfelt, that being the track aptly titled “Unnamed”, which utilizes a guitar with some interesting effects and a well played cello in the foreground. This release is just constructed so well, it still boggles me that it’s a one man band. The feel, the songwriting, the skill, all seems developed so highly at the bands young age that it’s almost a fucking band safety hazard, because I am now wondering if he knows where to go from here. I’m now desperately awaiting their next release. I hope to God almighty that they aren’t another crash and burn band after such an amazing start, because Simulacrum kicks the shit out of everyone in their genre today. None compare, not Opeth, not November’s Doom, not anybody (perhaps in these bands early days, but not anymore). Simulacrum is a must for all fans of this new genre I feel I should bestow upon them, that being “technical death/doom metal”. Overall, this comes out to be a strange and stand out approach which demands attention.

Jason Carne ........................9.5/10

Last Updated: 21-May-2006 15:13