Blaze of Sorrow - Eremita del Fuoco
Sun & Moon Records
Atmospheric Black Metal
7 songs (40' 45")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Andy

I last encountered Italian black metal duo Blaze of Sorrow on their EP from last year, in which they gave listeners a taste of their softer side in the form of mostly instrumentals and a neofolk cover, but with Eremita del Fuoco, they're back to black metal offerings. A good sign, Two things do remain from the performance of Fulgida Reminescenza, however: The beautiful production job and the painstaking musical arrangements.

Though La Conquista del Cielo starts quietly, with clean guitars, the black metal kicks in a minute into the song, heavier and with a sharper point to it than I was used to from them before. The melody is major-key but wistful, and the guitars complement each other perfectly, as high tremolo solos counterbalance the somewhat complex riffs in the lower register. The melody continues in an abbreviated form over the course of the blackened section while lead musician Peter, who is responsible for everything but the drums, sings in a gritty combination of shouts and hushed whispers. The riffs are often very much along the lines of early heavy metal -- some of the intro and verse guitar riffs, with suitable changes, could have been played in an 80s traditional metal band to a lack of comment. Just when one expects that, however, the band breaks out the blastbeats, double-kick drumming, and tremolo picking.

Perhaps it's the warmth of the Italian sun that keeps the music so upbeat. Somehow, no matter how black Blaze of Sorrow's sound gets, it never becomes as cold and bleak as northern black metal. Instead, the whole album seems warm, intricate, and alive, often deliberately sacrificing the chance to achieve a dark atmosphere just in order to get one more different melodic hook or rock rhythm into the song. This strategy pays off in a lot of ways; the title track is a magnificent result of that, with the rhythms merging smoothly into each other and slipping in and out of different playing styles in a very coherent way. Now and then, sparingly-used keyboard effects and acoustic guitar noodling make it into the quieter pieces, and the atmosphere is worthy of a movie soundtrack.

This isn't an instrumental album, but the vocals definitely take second place to the fine musicianship, in which the anonymously-named drummer "N." follows the moods and emotions of the guitar-oriented music with his work on the skins. Though driving blackened rock tracks like Il Passo del Titano are quite enjoyable, I preferred I Quattro Volti, a song with far more light and dark to it, ranging drastically between gentle hills of soft neofolk and deep abysses of downtuned chords. The album finishes out on a softer note, too, with Peter's guitar combining with birdsong and another bit of synth high above the main set of instruments.

Eremita del Fuoco is intricate, needing a few listens to fully appreciate, yet despite its delicacy, its underlying black metal core gives all of its tracks a strong foundation. Though it's got far too much folk music in its DNA to merit a one-to-one comparison to post-black metal, I could definitely see fans of Fen or Alcest enjoying this one. With Eremita del Fuoco, Blaze of Sorrow upholds their reputation for high quality while showing that the softer last EP was a side trip, not a new direction, and that they're not about to lose their taste for metal any time soon.

Killing Songs :
Eremita del Fuoco, I Quattro Volti
Andy quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Blaze of Sorrow that we have reviewed:
Blaze of Sorrow - Astri reviewed by Andy and quoted 83 / 100
Blaze of Sorrow - Fulgida Reminescenza reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
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