Gloomy Grim - Under The Spell Of The Unlight
Symphonic Black Metal
12 songs (53:26)
Release year: 2008
Gloomy Grim, Anticulture
Reviewed by Goat

Now here’s a name that hasn’t been heard in a while! Finnish Black Metal horde Gloomy Grim have mostly kept away from the spotlight since their formation in 1995, yet as a listen to fifth album Under The Spell Of The Unlight will prove, they deserve far more exposure. Musically taking a route similar to recent Dimmu Borgir, the album uses its Classical-inspired keyboards to weave an atmospheric spell apparently influenced by ‘horror movies, childhood encounters with the paranormal and vitriolic Anti-Christianity’.

The impact of the music itself will depend on how much you’ve listened to Dimmu Borgir over the years, and whether you find the average cheesy horror film to be frightening. Let’s face it; since you clicked on the link to a symphonic Black Metal album the chances are that you’ll have listened to something from the genre before, and if so Under The Spell Of The Unlight will do little for you on the first listen. Blasts of keyboard-backed Metal, broken up by occasional ambient moments, that varies from strangled voices, heavy breathing and mock-innocent piano melodies – it’s not exactly rocket science. Continue to listen, however, and the album starts to prove that it does have some charms.

First and foremost of these is the expert way that the classical melodies have been mixed into the Metal – it’s almost like they’re coming from a different source altogether than the rest of the music. Next is the fact that some of the ambient pieces, such as outro March – The Call are actually quite effective, buzzing drones that could have made for a genuinely atmospheric experience if they were incorporated better. Unfortunately, for the most part they seem more like afterthoughts than important segments of the overall sound, and sadly the base Metal elements aren’t enough to make this an excellent album. It’s far, far from being poor, but it’s hardly the sort of thing that Black Metal bands should be doing in 2008.

For what it offers, though, Under The Spell… is good enough to be worth a listen. The songs are titled with months of the year, hinting at an overall structure that puts this in concept album territory, hints of ‘families that lived here before’ and ‘something under the bed’ making this the aural equivalent of one of those dreadful American ‘horror’ films – they can be fun if you’ve nothing else to do, but are hardly scary. Likewise, if you have some Septicflesh or Rotting Christ albums nearby then Gloomy Grim won’t get a look in, but if you’re desperate then Under The Spell… will do nicely.

Killing Songs :
May – Why Are They Screaming At Night?, July – Cold Fingers, October – Cellar Dweller
Goat quoted 68 / 100
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