I remember Ladlo productions (Les Acteurs de l'Ombre) started as a webzine many years ago, and now I see it's climbed the ladder becoming a label and distro respected by the scene.
Being pioneers, Ebony Lake have had a rollercoaster existence: they started well conquering a deal with Cacophonous records on their debut release, but their no easy listening Black metal caused scarce sales: it's the destiny of eccentric, unconformed people in stark contrast with the mainstream. Oughtn't all real artists to fall into this category and share these values?
It appears obvious that Ophelius and Mass, the two musicians behind the monicker, already knew the traditional Black metal schemes and they can probably play any of the other 50 subgenres of Black metal derived from the origins without dripping a drop of sweat, aware that mainstream has already englobed these ex-underground styles. They aware ahead of times then and they split; now, after 12 years, they're back and they're risking again, rasing the bar of the Avantgarde metal approach once again. Yes, they could choose the easy way, but they were born like that and you can't turn an explorer to a clerk or an assembly-line worker. The new album represents the jewel crown of the French label, and it includes six brand-new tracks and another four belonging to an unreleased 1997 demo, so they're new in a certain manner, too.
The English duo spent two years in studio and availed themselves with the help of female chanters Nikizumias W. and Zarlenea K. and has given birth to a surpring opus of horrific surrealism, hypnotizing debauchery, hallucinogenic violent madness, rich in stabbing, schizophrenic structures where Black metal occupies just a fraction of the large spectrum they cover, also including Death metal, Doom, Avantgarde metal and Classical music elements.
One of the facts obscure of this record is if there're actual lyrics or not; their choice was to deliver a booklet without lyrics, showing only their thoughts and visions, but it remains a mystery if they're also authors of any lyrics whatsoever.
The first 6 songs have somewhat orchestral structures here and there, while the furious blastbeats and the demonic vocals assault the listener during the majority of the time; the drum machine is frantic and the occasional female vocals leave much space to the penetrating keyboards; there're several contrasts between tight parts and others slow and absurd, or simply dreamlike; sometimes there're just noises and sounds or rhythmic beats creating a very sinister atmosphere. When the male vocals are Black they are more front mixed, when they are evocative or generically clean they are placed more in the background, whereas the guitars are always underlined, so busy all the time creating different plots, skimming Blut Aus Nord, Incantation, Neurosis, all read under a new theatrical light. It's like going to a modern horror opera!
The demo tracks are closer to the early Cradle of Filth, yet much more complex, weird and oneiric in "Amerthyst Lung Concerto", and closer to My Dying Bride in "A Voice in the Piano"; some vocals are erotic, alternated with others pretty vampiric or even Death metal-like and the keyboards here are used to emphasize rather than accompany. The only pity is that the remaster of these 4 tracks taken from the original demo sessions has saturated the result in this stupid war of loudness that kills the dynamics; as this is not so plain, we can still tolerate it. Another aspect is that at that time they used to have a human drummer (or so it seems from the sounds), and this decidedly increases the beauty of these seasoned songs.
Allow me to catch this opportunity to thank the Transalpine label for offering me one of the 1,200 limited copies of this gigantic album and be quick not to remain with your hands empty!
The English veterans are back and this time they could really be on the verge of breaking through into the top league!
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 20th October 2011