Well, I don't usually like covering material that has already been reviewed here and elsewhere; I prefer to devote my reviews to metal bands who have been unjustly forgotten or ignored. But considering that a member of this band requested an album review, I guess I can make an exception.
My first impression of Paimonia was that they were mixing the chaotic dissonance of French black metal with the majestic and somber melodic sense of classic Scandinavian black metal. It's a fairly interesting and, perhaps, relevant combination, considering the current popularity of highly unorthodox acts such as Deathspell Omega
in the underground. While I don't think the contrast between dissonance and melody has been so compellingly executed on this album--I think this is a matter of compositional mastery, which will probably improve as these comparatively young musicians continue--time will prove whether Paimonia is an exceptional purveyor of extreme metal.
Instead of listing the positive aspects of this album first, I am going to address the only particular aspect I fully disliked since it's so notable. While I was immediately drawn into the whirling chaos of the opening "As Plague Scourge this World Apart" [sic], the vocals just as quickly drew me out of the song. Amidst so much powerful dissonance, a lisping, throaty voice feebly emerged. At first, they sounded like vocals belonging to some trendy "core" act. But the more I listened, a familiar vocalist came to mind: Ihsahn
. While being a brilliant composer, all-around excellent musician and a decent "clean" vocalist, Ihsahn
was never close, in terms of range and pure fury, to being the best vocalist of black metal. And
's albums often kept his vocals layered well beneath the instruments, Paimonia features these awkwardly strained vocals all throughout the album. To be fair, I've read other reviews that stated no complaint about the vocals. However, I think Paimonia could certainly be no worse--in my eyes, far better--if they were to find a member who focused purely upon vocals. The most damning qualities of the vocal performance is the lack of range and forced aggression, the latter being something which should never be found on any metal album.
With this matter out of the way, I must state that the guitar work on this album is of fairly high quality. Sure, in the course of the album, the structure of the riffs becomes predictable. Even though the current overstated dissonance in so much contemporary metal may be considered a bad trend, the dissonance on this album is at least initially effective; by the end of the album, it feels rather redundant. But that's where the melodic element, greatly reminiscent of Scandinavian acts such as Dissection
and, more recently, Naglfar
, comes in to create at least a minor level of contrast. Take "Ruined
" in which somber acoustic guitar contrast with blazing, aggressive riffage. Paimonia also shows a slight leaning toward the unorthodox side of extreme metal by the inclusion of a violin motif on "Depth
within Nothingness Called Life
." It's by no means the full blown, orchestral drama found in contemporary Dimmu Borgir
, but it's a nice touch of dark elegance that doesn't come off as ostentatious.
With the exception of the tracks I've mentioned, everything else simply blurred together due to the overuse of dissonance and the need for more pronounced melodies. To have these contrasting elements is not enough. The band must learn how to arrange the dissonant and melodic passages in a more effective way to bring about a truly powerful listening experience. And
by the way, Paimonia is simply not yet mature enough on a compositional level to justify an eight-minute track (see "Funeral
World"). This repetitiveness, along with the sub-par vocals, actually made me enjoy the album less than I expected.
Paimonia is certainly aware of its love for both dissonance and melody, and herein lies the key to producing a more compelling sense of tonal dynamism on their next album. The power of a band such as Deathspell Omega
is that, one moment, they can evoke dread with ominously surging rhythms and then leave the listener crestfallen with the depressive melody of a rippling arpeggio. As of now, Paimonia simply has not achieve an effective contrast of dissonance and melody to be anything more than merely somewhat above the average extreme metal band. However, "Disease
Named Humanity" might be worth checking out for those who are interested to follow the evolution of a fairly young band with a decent amount of potential for growth.