Nero Di Marte - Immoto review




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Band: Nero Di Marte
Album: Immoto
Release date: January 2020


01. Sisyphos
02. L'arca
03. Immoto
04. Semicerchi
05. La Casa Del Diavolo
06. Irradia
07. La Fuga


Ambition is good, but it can also be dangerous if left unchecked.

Italy's Nero Di Marte (formerly Murder Therapy) made quite the impression on me with their first two records under their new moniker (the self-titled album in 2013 and Derivae in 2014), employing a unique brand of dissonant, atmospheric extreme progressive metal into which substantial post-metal elements were subsequently infused. Somewhere vaguely within the same sonic ballpark as Hacride and Ulcerate, but with perhaps a more melodic approach, Nero Di Marte left me eagerly awaiting more music after the release of two albums of such high quality in quick succession; however, 5 years came and went without anything tangible. Finally, Immoto has arrived, but unfortunately the old term "difficult third album" feels very applicable in this case, both with respect to the protracted wait and the quality of the finished product.

The vocal style employed on the previous records, whilst not being something one would describe as singing exactly, was a more tonal and less distorted approach than the vast majority of frontmen use when playing music of this intensity, and both fit nicely with the instrumentals whilst providing a surprising degree of accessibility to music that regularly featured dissonant extreme metal riffing. It would appear that in the years since Derivae's release, efforts have been taken on the part of vocalist Sean Worrell to improve his singing ability; however, I'm thoroughly unconvinced regarding the merits of the change in approach. The first few minutes of opening track "Sisyphos" feature theatrical vocal interjections, spoken word and sung, that fall somewhere between "flamboyant" and "histrionic", particularly when set to such disjointed music as opens this record. It's difficult to tell which aspect contributes more strongly to my negative opinion of this opening song; as much as I find the vocals to be offputting, the chaotic, chop-change instrumental backdrop, which features the dissonance of past efforts without any of the hookiness, atmosphere or other appealing characteristics, is arguably even more headache-inducing. It's possible that this song (and album) will appeal to those with a more avant-garde taste in music than myself, and I appreciate the band wanting to try out new things and push their sound to the limits, but after such a long wait, I'm struggling to think of any way they could've more effectively reduced my expectations for the rest of Immoto than by opening with "Sisyphos".

Mercifully, the beginning of "L'Arca" begins to wash away some of this bad taste, with its moody, atmospheric build-up; however, during both this build-up and the more aggressive riffing that follows, the theatrical semi-singing that has been opted for this time around still does not work for me. Compared with the more restrained approach used on their more melodic efforts on previous albums, most notably "Time Dissolves", the attempts at vocal melodies are less hooky, and the strained tone feels like it's trying too hard to be emotionally evocative. There are times in the album where I enjoy the vocals, but considering how positively I've felt about them on past records, it's genuinely saddening how much and how regularly they irritate me throughout Immoto.

As far as the instrumentals go, the band members are still highly adept at pulling off dense, complex, technically challenging compositions; the interplay between the guitars and rhythm section on the aforementioned "L'Arca" is pretty jawdropping and satisfying at times. Nevertheless, many of the heavier parts of this album fail to match the coherence and memorability of similar moments on previous efforts; for example, "La Fuga" brings a lot of noise and chaos without really landing any effective blows. Additionally, in the past, Nero Di Marte remained consistently engaging whilst traversing a range of intensities, from the dense dissonant riffing to the extended atmospheric stretches. Here, there's more of the latter, which may be expected given that this is the band's lengthiest album to date, but these parts are far less convincing. Arguably the most egregious culprit on Immoto is the title track, which is the longest song on the record and absolutely feels it. The extended quiet sections drag long before the frantic riffs that punctuate the song arrive, none of which are sufficiently captivating to justify the waiting time. The next song on the album, "Semicerchi", has similar issues, albeit with quicker progression and better payoff. Overall, the only song that I feel is even close to the level of anything on Derivae is "La Casa Del Diavolo", and even it has moments where it loses me.

As I said at the beginning, ambition, whilst admirable, can backfire if not backed up with the skill to pull it off. Trying to develop the vocal approach to a more expansive, dramatic singing-oriented style sounds good, but not if the vocal melodies are not there and the result sounds more melodramatic than natural. Adding more length to the album only works if the ideas filling that runtime are consistently good, which isn't the case on Immoto. Attempting to be more experimental is always risky, and the outcomes of those experiments have simply not been successful here in my opinion. Taken together, I can't think of the album as anything other than a well-intentioned mess.

Early in 2019, I wrote a similarly negative review for Fallujah's Undying Light. In that case, I was irritated that the band had abandoned their biggest strengths and moved towards a bland, simplified approach. I've taken far less pleasure in writing this review, partially because I prefer Nero Di Marte, and partially because I have a lot more respect for what the band was attempting to on Immoto; they clearly put a lot of work into this album, but it just has not paid off for me. I hope that if I continue to revisit this album throughout the year, I may have a breakthrough that leads to me disavowing this review and all the opinions I've stated in it, but as of now, I've listened to it several times, and I cannot remember the last time I was this disappointed by a new release.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 7
Production: 5


 



Written on 26.01.2020 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments

Comments: 4   Visited by: 97 users
26.01.2020 - 19:46
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Why start the year with a review when you can start it with two reviews?
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
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26.01.2020 - 19:47
musclassia
Written by RaduP on 26.01.2020 at 19:46

Why start the year with a review when you can start it with two reviews?


I thought I'd get my shortest and longest reviews of the year out of the way early on, so I know what my min-max word limits are for anything else I write.
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26.01.2020 - 19:49
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by musclassia on 26.01.2020 at 19:47

I thought I'd get my shortest and longest reviews of the year out of the way early on, so I know what my min-max word limits are for anything else I write.

You must also make sure that your average words/review stays exactly constant by the end of the year
----
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.




2020 goodies
Loading...
29.02.2020 - 16:42
Rupert
So far I'm really digging this album. Way more than Derivae.
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