Peccatum

Lost in Reverie

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For everyone who thought Emperor's final album sounded a little thin on ideas and inspiration (and that really was everyone!), Peccatum is the reason why. The fact of the matter is, even as the Norwegian black metal icons were winding down their legendary career with less-than-legendary efforts, lead songwriter and visionary Ihsahn was already preoccupied with this all-consuming family side project featuring his wife, Ihriel (also known for her work with Star of Ash), and brother-in-law Lord PZ. In fact, the trio had already waxed two full albums and an EP by the time of Emperor's dissolution, and although PZ had already moved on, Peccatum's third opus, 2004's Lost in Reverie, was the first to benefit from Ihsahn's undivided attention -- and it showed. A truly ambitious undertaking of post-metal experimentalism, Lost in Reverie pushes the genre's avant-garde boundaries to places neither Peccatum nor Emperor had yet dared explore, simultaneously breaking and rewriting all rules as it pleases its creators. Indeed, some might think that the opening tandem of "Desolate Ever After" and "In the Bodiless Heart" feature more good ideas than both of Emperor's last albums, as they move between ambient sweetness and industrial metal might at the drop of a scythe. Ensuing adventures in sound, such as "Parasite My Heart" and "Stillness," are similarly structured (or unstructured, as it were), with sparse, almost inaudible passages unexpectedly giving way to sweeping orchestrations, while Ihsahn and Ihriel (he screaming like a demon possessed and she like a ghoulish Kate Bush on the schizophrenic "Black Star") continually exchange vocal lines. Admittedly, the duo's ululating voices can be a bit much at times (on the softly trip-hopping "Veils of Blue," one wonders if they're being overtly dramatic or are simply off-key), but whatever the case, Ihriel redeems herself on the stunning piano and strings-driven parting shot "The Banks of This River Is Night." As this evocative piece carries the album home, it becomes apparent that, for all its often quixotic romanticism, Lost in Reverie's all-around sense of daring ultimately wins out over any occasional blunders -- a brave and recommended release.

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