Poema Arcanus - Stardust Solitude review
|Release date:||August 2020|
01. Stardust Solitude
04. The Lighthouse Keeper
05. Straits Of Devotion
07. Kingdom Of Ruins
Most likely Chile's (or South America in general) longest-standing doom metal act, Poema Arcanus returns after 7 years. Continuous delays (not even mentioning Covid-19) have put several obstacles in the band's path, but Stardust Solitude sees the band getting out of that hole as victorious.
Their progressive leanings have always been part of their style, but now said elements shine through more than ever. The keyboards and synths usually set the mood of their songs with haunting melodies and effects in the background. This time around the band ditched that part of their core sound and shattered the limits of what they could do with the guitars. I don't have any expertise with the instrument, nor have any inside info, so I can only guess the amount of pedals used here, but it's obvious that there must have been quite a few.
Far from being gimmicky, these guitar effects revitalize the band's riffs, which mercilessly pummel throughout. They create vast landscapes with thundering leads and solos around every corner. With no keyboards to back him up, Igor Leiva's mastery of his instrument is a highlight that won't go unnoticed for the listener. Consequently, more responsibility has been put into the rhythm department: The vibrant bass of Juan Díaz is perfectly clear and shakes the ground with its hellish warmth, while drummer Luis Moya further expands the significance of drums within doom metal with ever-changing and hard-hitting beats that frame the songs nicely.
One can't talk about a Poema Arcanus record without mentioning the vocals. Claudio Carrasco has always used easily recognizable deep clean vocals. To me they evoke an angst-filled sense of loss and impotence against an uncaring world. Along with his sorrowful cleans, Claudio uses very brutal and bone-shattering growls that wouldn't feel out of place in in a funeral doom metal act. This is especially true on the slow burners "Pilgrim" and closer "Brave".
The flow of the album is far from what you'd expect from a doom metal album. The complexity of the songs might alienate a few, but I urge you to let the songs take you to all these fascinating places they hide within. It's difficult for me to give proper highlights, but tracks like "Orphans" and "Straits Of Devotion" are among the most riff-tastic doom metal songs I've heard this year, with some impressive drum patterns all over the place. My personal favorite has to be "The Lighthouse Keeper" though: A true chameleon of a song, with some strong post-rock/metal vibes and a beautifully constructed progression during the second half. It shows the band coming together as a whole to create a magical sound I haven't listened from Chile ever since Mar De Grises sadly called quits. For me, this song alone is worth the price tag.
With only 3 instruments and vocals, one would think Poema Arcanus is going back to basics; it couldn't be further from the truth. Stardust Solitude marks an intriguing new chapter for a band with an ever-evolving sound.
||Written on 25.11.2020 by|
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