Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Requiem Aeternam - Destiny-Man (2010)

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ICorp Records

There are some albums that have so much going on, so many tangents and directional shifts, that wrapping your mind around the material being presented turns into quite a chore. Destiny-Man, the third release from New York-based progressive black metal outfit Requiem Aeternam, is one of those schizophrenic albums. Originally formed in 1995 in Uruguay, Requiem Aeternam have gained a reputation for putting together unconventional arrangements. José Romero Sum, the sole songwriter and only remaining original member, doesn't deviate from his formula on Destiny-Man and, in fact, delivers ten ambitious tracks that surpass the complexity of Requiem Aeternam's previous work.

Destiny-Man opens with a deceivingly simple instrumental piece, but the mellow acoustic guitar soon gives way to the outright cacophony that is the title track. The standard black metal components are all here in abundance - tremolo riffs, punishing blast beats, hoarse vocals - though no song settles in long enough to really develop any sense of emotion or consistency. Instead, the time signatures, riffs, and beat patterns change fast and furiously to the point of becoming almost overwhelming. "Vying" is a prime example of this discordance, being one of the most difficult tracks to grasp.

All about Destiny-Man is not chaos, however. Sum takes his inspiration from classical composers such as Mozart and Bach, and you can hear hints of this influence in some of his searing leads. Elsewhere, the album eases up on the ferocity enough to allow for the creation of a melancholic, ominous atmosphere. Such a moment comes as a dark, doomy interlude during the song "Requiem Aeternam" while "Freewill" - the most accessible song on Destiny-Man - opens with clean vocals and is peppered with slow, melodic passages. The beginning seconds of "Ser" sounds very much like a modern rock tune, with more clean vocals and a definite groove. Enjoyable as these moments may be, they are fleeting and soon replaced with the seemingly directionless assault that Requiem Aeternam is known for.

Destiny-Man will not find a great many admirers, except perhaps among fans of bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan or Primus, but I don't think that Sum set out to pen an accessible album. Experimentation and expanding boundaries is the name of the game here, and with that in mind Requiem Aeternam can declare "mission accomplished".

Track Listing
3Requiem Aeternam5:50
Total Runtime49:49

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