Peccatum - Amor Fati
Avantgarde Metal
10 songs (44'28")
Release year: 2000
Peccatum, Candlelight
Reviewed by Alex

I wanted to listen to Peccatum’s Amor Fati as a warm-up to the latest Emperor’s output Prometheus. How are the two related? Peccatum is a side-project of Emperor’s Ihsahn along with his wife Ihriel and bro-in-law Lord PZ.

Amor Fati is not a simple, cut’n’dry record (Nothing seemed straightforward this week anyway). But what is when Ihsahn is involved? There are some elements on Amor Fati I am absolutely in awe of, some things that leave me on the fence and some I absolutely don’t like.

I love Ihsahn’s sense for grandiose and ominous melodies. In this regard, he compares with Aram Khachaturian, and old Soviet composer, who may not be known much outside of the old Soviet Union except for the world famous Saber Dance. When Ihsahn’s melodies are combined with his excellent guitarwork they unavoidably touch my senses. Be it the soul searing heaviness of the riffs on Rise, Ye Humans or the chord progression on Murder, the guitar on Amor Fati simply shines. Another element I liked a lot was the use of a string section. I am not sure whether the instruments are real or synthesized (sorry, promo copy and thus no booklet), but violins and cello sound so appropriate. For proof, check the unnamed short instrumental #5 or the opening of Murder. Whenever synth layering is used it adds to the symphonic chamber music feel.

Where I thought the record is a bit overdone is in the complexity of compositions. Who am I to argue with Ihsahn, but I felt at times that by jumping around and abruptly going from one theme to another the climax is missing. Some points are just left underdeveloped. Male vocals, mostly handled by Ihsahn, are extremely varied. They range from clean Arcturus circa La Masquerade Infernale type singing to distorted black metal shrieks. In my opinion, clean singing combined with low-tone spoken chants would be the most appropriate for Peccatum.

What I didn’t like at all were the drum sound in some songs and female vocals in most of them. Maybe, Lord PZ’s job is to program the drums, not play them, but they sound so machine-like in the first two tracks One Play. No Script and No Title for a Cause. Ihriel mostly sings with a flat, no-ups-no-downs soprano. I am not sure whether it is the mix, or the strength of her voice, but you often don’t hear her from behind the combination of guitar and synth. At times when her voice interrupts a stunning dramatic melody only to go into a hiccup staccato (A Game Divine?), it simply annoys. She is best at serene church style chants as in the first part of The Watchers Mass or floating along the Arabesque melody on A Game Divine?

If I only had two words to characterize Amor Fati I’d call it grotesque weirdness. It is something that definitely has to be experienced, but only a few would find the memories lasting. Arcturus, thy perch of Weird Metal is untouched!

Killing Songs :
Murder, A Game Divine?; Rise, Ye Humans
Alex quoted 67 / 100
Other albums by Peccatum that we have reviewed:
Peccatum - The Moribund People reviewed by Alex and quoted no quote
Peccatum - Lost in Reverie reviewed by Alex and quoted 76 / 100
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