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Dark Mirror ov Tragedy - The Lord ov Shadows

Dark Mirror ov Tragedy
The Lord ov Shadows
by Sean McGuirk at 11 March 2019, 7:00 AM

South Korea’s DARK MIRROR OV TRAGEDYhave been playing Symphonic Black Metal since MySpace was still a thing back in the early 2000’s. With more of a Marquis de Sade meets William Blake flavor, the musical comparisons lean toward CRADLE OF FILTHor ARCTURUSas opposed to the more Transylvanian style of DIMMU BORGIRor EMPEROR.  Their fourth full-length release, “The Lord Ov Shadows”sees the band growing up, dropping a lot of the Melo-Death wankery of 2014’s “The Lunatic Chapters of Heavenly Creatures,” and swapping out their old logo, which looked like something you might’ve found on a Geocities page accompanied by an animated glitter effect, for a basic typeface.  The music here has more of an operatic, classical bent, with forlorn keys and strings driving the melody.  There are only five tracks, with a pair of them taking up two-thirds of the disc’s 47 minute run-time.

The band effectively melds the deep terror and anguish of the Norwegian school of Black Metal with cinematic minor key undertones to create a delightfully macabre, almost supernatural, operatic sound.  As evidenced in the opening instrumental, great care is given to the arrangements and the competing symphonic elements, including choirs, violins, brass sections and tasteful acoustic guitar flourishes, making them sound organic rather than the product of a basement Synth Black Metal project like SUMMONING. Vocalist Material Pneumais downright brilliant throughout, with a squelching high-pitch shout that is powerful enough to scare the wits out of you in the opening of “Chapter II, The Possession.”

“Chapter III, The Annunciation”is the first of the two epics on the album, and is an outstanding uptempo tumult of emotion and grandeur.  At the four-minute mark, the song absolutely soars with a rousing guitar and keyboard duet. Drummer Confyversekeeps the beat with standard blasts and double kicks, but also adds some chaotic fills as the song turns into a desperate battle for control.  “Chapter IV”is another synth-driven orchestral intermission, which includes the best female vocal of the album, underscoring the Italian opera feel to the set.  The closing epic, “I Am The Lord Ov Shadows,”again rides on the strength of Pneuma’s vocals and some brilliant keys from Genie.  It has the feeling of a long reprise, reiterating themes that came before and adding some flourishes of violin and galloping Prog Metal antics, including skillful staccato leads from Senytand Gash.  A chiming pocket watch melody fades out only to return after four minutes of silence with some disembodied voices and more atmosphere.

Fellow Korean symphonic stalwarts, CHTHONIC or OATHEAN,come to mind, as each band puts a similar romantic spin on the genre and has a well-crafted look, as seen in the video for “I Am The Lord Ov Shadows”below. The music is equal parts sultry and sinister, loud and chaotic, but also really easy to digest.  The wheel isn’t being reinvented here, but DARK MIRROR OV TRAGEDYcertainly provide enough musicianship and added flourishes to justify their existence, giving themselves a legitimate shot at breaking out in a genre that has inspired many-a-thoughtful Xanga blog entries and Deviant Art posts over the years… and counting!

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Chapter I. Creations of the Alter Self
2. Chapter II. Possession
3. Chapter III. The Annunciation in Lust
4. Chapter IV. Acquainted With The Nocturnal Devestation
5. Chapter V. I Am The Lord Ov Shadows
Lineup:
Material Pneuma- Vocals
Gash- Guitar
Senyt- Guitar
Reverof- Bass
Confyverse- Drums
Genie- Keyboards
Record Label: Sliptrick Records
     


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