Although the metal and jazz worlds seldom cross paths, there is one thing that many metal and jazz musicians have in common: a strong commitment to music that is played rather than programmed. Hard bop, post-bop, Dixieland, swing, and free jazz are full of musicians who would rather swallow cyanide than use a drum machine on their albums, and countless metal musicians feel the same way whether their focus is death metal, goth metal, power metal, progressive metal, folk metal, or thrash metal. So it isn't surprising that Limbonic Art's use of a drum machine has been quite controversial in black metal circles. And those who insist that drum machines have no place in black metal or any other type of metal will take no comfort in Phantasmagoria, which finds Limbonic Art continuing to favor electronic drum programming. But the use of a drum machine doesn't mean that Phantasmagoria isn't heavy; in fact, this 2010 release may very well be Limbonic Art's heaviest album to date. Without abandoning the symphonic school of black metal, Vidar Jense (aka Daemon) and friends became heavier on 2007's Legacy of Evil -- and they increase the heaviness factor even more on Phantasmagoria. They are still melodic and still have the symphonic element, but while this 2010 edition of Limbonic Art won't be mistaken for the ferocious Gorgoroth, the band won't be mistaken for Dimmu Borgir either. The level of polish that one expects from Dimmu Borgir or Cradle of Filth cannot be found on Phantasmagoria, which strives for nuance as well as blistering forcefulness. Phantasmagoria, like Legacy of Evil, is slightly inconsistent. But the disc is engaging more often than not -- and Limbonic Art's use of a drum machine doesn't prevent them from inflicting their share of wounds and abrasions.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson