Limbonic Art - Phantasmagoria
Candlelight Records
Symphonic Black Metal
12 songs (1:11:12)
Release year: 2010
Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Goat

The departure of Morfeus last year has left Limbonic Art a one-man project, something quite audible from a listen to this, the band’s seventh album. It’s long, repetitive, self-indulgent and ultimately something of a disappointment if you’re expecting a return to the glory of the band’s early years, yet as ever Limbonic Art create so intense and compelling a world for fans of the subgenre that you can’t help but enjoy what you hear. Opening song Prologue/Phantasmagoria bursts in like Solefald having regressed to their earliest Black Metal pastures, and from then on you can really only sit back and enjoy the ride, Crypt Of Bereavement especially attacking like Dimmu Borgir meeting latter-day Anaal Nathrakh. Fans of the band will be instantly at home, although newcomers may take a little time to settle into its rather user-unfriendly world. It’s worth noting that they get as much help as possible, the riffs coming thick and fast and sometimes striving for catchiness – the opening to Curse Of The Necromancer a prime example.

Otherwise, the likes of Portal To The Unknown rattle along, atmosphere not so much lightly applied as dumped all over everything, backing keyboards an important part of the band’s sound. Slower, more grandiose cuts like Dark Winds and A World In Pandemonium march along sorrowfully, the latter speeding up partway through to something very like early Emperor. Most songs are above the four-minute mark, Flight Of The Mind’s Eye the shortest at just under, and strangely it’s one of the best, showing what the band is capable of when it directs its purpose rather than meandering around the place. The scissoring assault of Apocalyptic Manifestation is sadly the exception here rather than the rule – dropping a few of the longer, more pointless tracks would have resulted in a tighter, more focused album. As it is, it’s hard to get enthusiastic for over seventy minutes of this style of music, and that ultimately is where Phantasmagoria fails.

However, if you’re a fan (and who isn’t?) it’s easy to concentrate on the stomping likes of Prophetic Dreams, which is like Slayer set to an orchestra with a wonderfully epic finale, and is as awesome as it sounds. The biggest disappointment is that the band STILL haven’t got a human drummer, and although the backing clatter is actually not an important part of the guitar-and-keyboards-driven sound, how much better would it have been with a capable blaster (Trym?) on the drumstool? As ever, when faced with a Limbonic Art album you have to downplay expectations in order to fully enjoy what you actually have, and looked at from that angle, Phantasmagoria is an above-average album from the Norwegian legend that will please fans and make others wonder what the fuss is about.

Killing Songs :
Prologue/Phantasmagoria, Crypt Of Bereavement, Flight Of The Mind’s Eye, Apocalyptic Manifestation
Goat quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Limbonic Art that we have reviewed:
Limbonic Art - Legacy Of Evil reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
Limbonic Art - The Ultimate Death Worship reviewed by Alex and quoted 76 / 100
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