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Embryonic Cells - Horizon

Embryonic Cells
by Robert Amer at 09 January 2019, 10:20 PM

France, along with Iceland, is right behind Norway on the list of countries with the greatest output of Black Metal. In “Horizons”, underground French veterans, EMBRYONIC CELLS, have created an opus that is likely to resonate with fans of the golden (obsidian?) age of Norwegian Black Metal. The release abounds with dissonant, yet melodic guitars, complimentary but not overbearing keyboards, atmospheric passages, and a frigid intensity.

“Crossing” sets the sonic stage with distant and subdued arpeggios, mimicking the crashing waves in the background before plunging into the frenetic, tremolo-propelled introduction of “Don’t Serve Your King”. The chorus emerges out of the intro/verse in a majestic and expansive display that utilizes a mysterious harmonic progression. In contrast, the chorus of “Carved in My Skin” maintains more of an ominous character with the presence of the organ, which is intensified in the final refrain with its addition of brass.

Some of the strongest tracks on the album are those at the heart of the release. The guitars in “Never Let You Fall” feature some of the most memorable writing on the album, from the melodic locust swarm in the chorus/intro to the SLAYER-esque bridge. It also features one of the release’s most memorable choruses in its strong delivery, both performances featuring the talents of Max Beaulieu. “Across the Mountains” presents a varied structure while sustaining a largely atmospheric sound throughout.

The album approaches its conclusion in the linked tracks “Horizon…” “To Horizon”. These tracks also experiment with structure and ambiance in a largely effective showing, though the final section of the latter seems abrupt and could have more gravity to close out the longest track(s). Whatever sense of finality that might have been lacking at the end of the preceding track(s) is certainly present throughout the finale, “No Boundaries”. The chorus is one of the most musically enveloping parts of the album with its bells, the call and return between droning, chant-like clean vocals and shrieks, and the sympathetic instrumentation.

The zenith of Norwegian Black Metal might have long passed, but an effort like “Horizon” offers a fresh take on the genre. The clarity of the production certainly sets it apart from the early releases of the godfathers like MAYHEM and EMPEROR, adding to the album’s appeal. The varied structures of the tracks toward the end of the album were more engaging than those in the beginning, though they were still very listenable. Overall, the release is strong and well worth checking out if one is a fan of old Norwegian Black Metal.

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

3 Star Rating

1. Crossing
2. Don’t Serve Your King
3. Carved in My Skin
4. Never Let You Fall
5. Across the Mountains
6. Horizon…
7. To Horizon
8. No Boundries
Max Beaulieu - Guitars, Vocals
Djo Lemay - Drums
Pierre “Mamuth” Touzanne - Bass
Pierre Le Pape (Melted Space) - Synths
Record Label: Apathia Records


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