XAEMORA: At Dusk Of Existence
Release year: 2020
There’s an art in how to properly tap into the sound and style of yesteryear without sounding cheap or void of ideas. I’ve touched upon this a couple of times already, for example in my review of Warmoon Lord’s debut album; Xaemora from Missouri, USA come in many ways from the exactly same place, despite having a pretty different sound.
Where above-mentioned Warmoon Lord drew from early noughties Finnish black metal and the classic French/Les Legions Noires sound, Xaemora’s well of inspiration is mid-to-late 90’s melodic black metal. There’s an obvious debt owed to many of the less-sugar coated acts from Norway, but not just that: one can hear stronger or fainter echoes of, for example, early Seth etc. And drawing from this wide variety of sources, Xaemora do things right: they don’t sound too much like any specific artist, like cheap copycats.
To express things extremely compactly, At Dusk Of Existence will appeal to you if you like late 90’s melodic synth-enhanced black metal. Can’t put it simpler or fairer than that. The five-track, 27-minute mini-album sounds extremely much like those largely forgotten entries in the annals of black metal, and is a very passable piece of faux nostalgia to boot. Lack of originality is very efficiently compensated by quality and a good sense of style.
It’s not just the songwriting, with plenty of melodic leads and riffs combined with the expected tremolo picking backed by blasting, supported by ever-present ambient synths, which reeks of the 90’s. It’s also the sound: very little bass, somewhat thin guitar sounds, a slightly tinny drum sound. Very 90’s-like. And, as is only fitting for the style, of course there are atmospheric passages with acoustic guitars. No female vocals, though. This isn’t that kind of 90’s melodic black metal.
And so, whilst there is very little originality on At Dusk Of Existence, it is a very adequate take on the melodic black metal of yesteryear. Just about the only issue to raise about the mini-album is the lack of memorable tracks: the album as a whole leaves a decidedly positive memory imprint, and the way they’ve captured not only the stylistic trappings but also the atmosphere and feel of the era are laudable in their authenticity. But, listening to the tracks one by one, none of them will stick.
Other than that, though, At Dusk Of Existence is a fine release. It evokes a sense of nostalgia in a very positive fashion. But is also able to stand on it’s own two legs without relying on echoing old favourite albums. It’s a skillful take on a classic sound, proving how timeless good old melodic black metal is.