Arcana Coelestia

Le Mirage de l'Ideal

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Arcana Coelestia, a duo project from Italy, are led by the mysterious MZ, who's also in Urna and Locus Mortis. The music on this, the group's follow-up to the Ubi Secreta Colunt EP, is slow, occasionally quite beautiful goth doom/black metal. With titles like "Duskfall," "Requiem (For the Fathomless Void of Redemption)," and "Thus Fade in Nocturnal Deluge," it's pretty easy to predict what it'll sound like -- psychedelically doomy guitars reminiscent of the U.K. band Esoteric, crawling rhythms, atmospheric keyboards, and vocals that shift between ultra-guttural growls and ruffled-shirt crooning. It's not an album that'll work well on an iPod or tiny laptop speakers -- its vast sonic vistas demand to fill a room. It's also an album that demands patience, as its long songs (two of ‘em are over ten minutes each, and the rest are in the six- to eight-minute range) march inexorably toward…well, the horizon, basically, because they never quite reach the catharsis metal's supposed to strive for. This is ritualistic music, throbbing with the rhythm of religious ceremony rather than the pounding beat that gets mosh pits going. There's even some almost liturgical-sounding vocal melodies in the second half of the title track. If you like Opeth's or Type O Negative's artiest, most melancholy material, you'll like this quite a bit.

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