Peccatum- Lost In Reverie (The End)
review by Jim Clark

Track Listing

1. Desolate Ever After
2. In The Bottomless Heart
3. Parasite My Heart
4. Veils Of Blue
5. Black Star
6. Stillness
7. The Banks Of This River Is Night



Lost In Reverie, the third release by the Norwegian husband and wife metal duo of Peccatum, is quite simply one of the more bizarre discs that I’ve heard in some time. Combining death metal, complete with the occasional growling vocals, with classical, acoustic, electronic and industrial styles, the results make for a truly unique listening experience.

“Desolate Ever After” starts things off, first with an extended classical string introduction before Ihriel’s vocals kick in over a piano backing. Then things start to get weird – an industrial beat starts and Ihriel’s husband Ihsahn starts growling out vocals with his wife’s voice floating in the background along with a creepy string section. This comes to an abrupt halt and only Ihriel’s vocals and piano return before repeating the pattern above. A very strange, yet highly effective, way to start off a disc.

“In The Bodiless Heart” seems even stranger – when it starts, it sounds like a fairly standard pop number. There’s Ihriel singing over acoustic guitar, fretless bass and drums. The song even goes into a typical chorus with Ihriel showing off her beautiful voice. But about two minutes in, an electric guitar brings the quietness to a close and Ihsahn starts singing, this time in a non-aggressive (i.e., non-growling) way. But this section lasts only briefly before returning to the acoustic instrumentation and Ihriel’s vocals. This doesn’t last, though, as Ihsahn’s electric guitar and vocals return the track back to a heavier, though not really heavy, conclusion. Another intriguing song that switches between the light and dark very well.

A few seconds of sound effects start off “Parasite My Heart” before all hell breaks loose with growling, death metal vocals starting off over grinding guitar and pounding drumming. But just when you think the song is going to be an all-out death metal onslaught, things come to a crashing halt (again) as the free-for-all abruptly ends and just piano and Ihriel’s singing take over. More instrumentation is soon added – electric guitar, bass and Knut Aalefjaer’s drums. Shortly, just Ihriel’s vocals and piano are all that’s left and the song ends. Despite the extreme introduction, this song actually goes through fewer transitions than the previous two.

Electric piano, jazzy drumming and Ihsahn’s vocals start off “Veils Of Blue.” Ihsahn shows that he’s got quite good voice of his own. The more subdued intro soon switches to electric mayhem and Ihriel’s singing and soon, she lets out her first growl of the disc before the track returns, albeit briefly, to its jazzier side. From here, it more or less alternates between Ihsahn’s fairly straightforward singing, double-tracked with his wife’s vocals, to just Ihriel and her screaming before fading out.

“Black Star” opens with electric piano and some distorted electric guitar that leads into Ihriel’s atmospheric singing. Close to two minutes in, the extreme metal onslaught returns, including growling male vocals. But in keeping with the pattern of the rest of the disc, this soon stops and the music that opened the track returns. A heavier section returns, but this time, with Ihsahn singing in his normal voice. A heavy instrumental bit develops that leads abruptly into a quiet outro.

A very brooding intro with Ihsahn’s dark vocals backed with electric guitar and some programmed percussion starts off “Stillness.” Ihriel soon takes over the singing over the same instrumentation before a brief piano part leads into very heavy synthesized mayhem, complete with the sound of buzzing bees and some classical instrumentation thrown in as well. The music and singing from the track’s introduction returns, followed by Ihriel’s, then Ihsahn’s vocals and a repeat of the heavy synthesizer section.

“The Banks Of The River Is Night” closes the disc. The song features Ihriel singing over a piano and string backing. For a bit, the piano and strings have sort of a dark, horror movie feel to them. Ihriel returns to sing, quietly, over the closing of the track, making this the first song on Lost In Reverie that doesn’t go through an abrupt transition.

And that’s the only problem that I have with this disc - it’s that its seemingly unpredictability becomes predictable. Other than the closing number, no other song goes straight through as a metal song or as a classical piece or as an industrial piece or a standard rock piece. After the first few numbers, I started to wonder to myself, “Okay, when will it get heavy or get quieter” and it always did. Some variation in the sense of having an all-out metal song or a subdued, mellower song in the middle of the disc would have been welcome. But I do have to admit that I was fooled by the closing number as I kept saying “alright, here’s where it’s going to get heavy.” And for that one song, I was wrong.

Still, since the songs, with all of their abrupt changes, work so well on their own merit, it is hard to complain. And I can say that I am interested in what this duo will come up with next.

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