Smargroth - Empyreal Cycle
1 October 2011

01. Celestial Epitome
02. Echoes Within
03. Lamenting The Fallen
04. Emerging Misery
05. Sublime Awakening
06. The Anvil Of Fate
07. Illusion Of Hope
08. Awe
09. Last Illumination

Melodic black metal is a tricky genre. There's not much room for expansion or experimentation. In order to succeed in such a limited environment, you need to write good songs.

Smargroth has at least partially succeeded at that. The first track off the album, "Celestial Epitome", kicks off with such overwhelming conviction and potency that it's hard not to succumb to its charm. A relentless guitar attack, thundering blastbeats and excellent vocals, all that spiced up by very melodic riffage. The song gallops, then slows down, then speeds up again, every tempo change timely and interesting. Everything is spot on - memorable, catchy and to the point. It really whets the appetite for the rest. The next three tracks live up to the expectations, especially "Emerging Misery", a truly excellent track, the high point of the album. The angry guitarwork, apart from being plain great, reminds me of Satyricon's Nemesis Divina which, at least in my eyes, is a huge compliment.

Unfortunately, the second part of Empyreal Cycle is considerably weaker. At first sight everything is in place, but the lack of variety rears its ugly head. Tracks are too similar and they melt into one long tiresome mass. But this is not so bad after all. You can always play 4-5 tracks at a time and never get tired. I can't help but mention one more thing. The cheese that fills this band's image and the album cover would be enough to make a cartwheel-sized pizza...

It's a nice surprise to listen to an obscure band without any expectations whatsoever and to hear surprisingly adept, well-done music with a top-notch production. Next time cut down on filler content, get more good stuff in, then we'll have a real winner.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Band profile: Smargroth
Album: Empyreal Cycle


Written on 28.03.2012 by
Writes overly honest and totally subjective reviews when fancy strikes him. Which is not often. Which is probably good, all things considered.
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Marcel Hubregtse - 28.03.2012 at 12:40  
I thought you had already reviewd this album and gave it a full point higher at the time. Am I high for thinking that?
Daniell - 28.03.2012 at 13:20  
It seems you are I started this review a few months ago, but never published it due to lack of time to finish it. Now I have more time, so i'll be digging up more such reviews.
Marcel Hubregtse - 28.03.2012 at 13:29  
What I hated were the fade outs used in a couple of songs
Mr. Doctor - 28.03.2012 at 13:37  
Written by Marcel Hubregtse on 28.03.2012 at 13:29

What I hated were the fade outs used in a couple of songs

I think the only time when it's fine to use fade outs is on the last song , if that...
BitterCOld - 29.03.2012 at 19:46  
Or if you are Bolt Thrower.

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