Midnight Odyssey - Shards of Silver Fade
I, Voidhanger Records
Ambient Black Metal
Disc 1: 4 songs (68' 16") Disc 2: 4 songs (74' 22")
Release year: 2015
I, Voidhanger Records
Reviewed by Andy

Midnight Odyssey's latest album, like previous forays, is probably an acquired taste for those not interested in keyboard-oriented ambient black metal of the Burzum or Summoning school, but for those who are, Shards of Silver Fade has its moments. Dis Pater remains the sole member and puts in a softer, dreamier performance here than in past albums. Like it or not, this is often more "ambient" than "black metal".

The first thing to notice are the vocals, which are toned down even more from their former shriek than in the recent albums. Much of the time they're quiet, cold, and very clean -- more like darkwave than like black metal --, and are usually paired with keyboards rather than guitar. Even when a heavier sound appears on From a Frozen Wasteland, which takes the majority of the 22-minute song to get past the keyboard synth-only part, it's buried in synth pad work that is ever-so-slightly abrasive. Hunter of the Celestial Sea has no fewer keyboards, but is quite a bit less indulgent, with a speed and style that reminded me of ColdWorld's Melancholie2; if you liked that one, you're quite likely to enjoy this one too. The tracks are pretty minimalistic and have some moments of beauty just in the atmosphere generated. Son of Phoebus, my favorite, has a distant, gentle lassitude surrounding the melodic keyboard riff, and the dreamlike atmosphere doesn't go away even when the song's supposed to come to a head with faster drumming. A Ghost in Gleaming Stars has a similar thoughtful quality, with Dis Pater's voice sung in a sepulchral tone to a slow, measured beat during verses, but rising to choir-like overdubbings of higher notes during the chorus.

There are two whole disks of this stuff, but it seems like Midnight Odyssey could have called it quits with the audience perfectly satisfied after the first four songs, because we're talking about 20-minute dirges here with distant vocals fading in and out and absolutely drenched in keyboard; even when guitars come in to make the song heavier or faster, such as in the middle of Starlight Oblivion, they are so buzzing and heavily processed that they're barely distinguishable from the keyboards they provide a counterpoint to. The title track is somewhat different, in that it doesn't start with keyboard layers like everything else has; instead it begins with a drum track that the hazy mix of guitars and synth paint over, with a combination of the clean vocals and a harsh croak like that used by Summoning's Protector, but this isn't a major change, and some might argue it isn't an improvement either. Everything is slow, calm, and distant without any real change to it over almost two and a half hours of music.

I'm not sure I mind, though. Make no mistake, it's hard to get through this double album in a sitting and enjoy it, even if one is an ambient black metal fan, but I can definitely see some of these tracks making it into my background/relaxation-music playlist, or perhaps as the soundtrack to the chill-out room of some metal-leaning ambient club. I liked some parts of Shards of Silver Fade, though I can't imagine it becoming regular listening material anytime soon.

Killing Songs :
Son of Phoebus
Andy quoted 68 / 100
Other albums by Midnight Odyssey that we have reviewed:
Midnight Odyssey - Silhouettes of Stars reviewed by Andy and quoted no quote
Midnight Odyssey - Firmament reviewed by Goat and quoted 74 / 100
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