Well, it’s Monday again, and that can only mean one thing. It’s time for the “Signmeto” Unsigned Band of the Week! As you are already aware, this is that thing where I go to the “Sign Me to Roadrunner Records” website and check out the messages that bands have written to me asking for a review of their music. Then I pick one at random (where “at random” usually means “whoever wrote to me the longest amount of time ago”), I listen to the songs they’ve got posted, then I write about them here so YOU can discover some awesome new music.
This week we’ve got a nice sample of black metal from the frozen tundra of the far north — except instead of northern Europe like you might be expecting, this is northern North America. Specifically, we’re looking at a band who come from the French-Canadian province of Québec, who call themselves Obscurcis Romancia. If you couldn’t decipher it yourself, the band’s name (which seems to be a hybrid of French and Latin, as far as I can tell) translates to something like “Obscured Romance.” They play a fantastically proficient form of classically-influenced black metal, and they’ve also recently released their second full-length album (details on how to get your hands on a copy, later in this post!)
The band has three songs available on their Signmeto page, “In Memoriam,” “Awakening in Spiritual Madness,” and “Seasons of Infinite Sorrow,” all of which are taken from their album Theatre of Deception, which was released on the 26th of February. As usual, I have listened to these songs in the order they are presented on the website, although I later discovered that they are actually the opening track (“Awakening”), the penultimate song (“Memoriam”), and the final track (“Seasons”) from the album. You can hear all three in the correct order (along with the other songs in between) by using the Bandcamp widget near the bottom of this page, but for the purposes of this article I am writing about just the three that are presented at Signmeto.
Within the first thirty seconds of the first song here, I am instantly drawn into the music and enthralled by it. “In Memoriam” feels like a Beethoven piano concerto or a Chopin étude — played at an allegretto pace, designed to showcase the technical skills of the person behind the keyboard. In this case, instead of the solo piano being backed with an orchestral arrangement, the rest of the instrumentation is that of a typical black metal band. Over the better part of eight minutes, the machine-like drums and guitars follow the piano through various twisting and turning melodies. All of this is also acompanied by the vocals, the principal part of which sounds a bit like the piercing shriek of Dani Filth (only a bit raspier and — well, a bit more masculine-sounding), as well as an occasional gruffer-sounding death metal voice. After the tempo slows almost to a crawl, about two minutes from the end, we are greeted by a sudden accelerando, but just as you start to marvel at the newly increased speed, everything hastens even more (inexplicably, and seemingly impossibly), for the last minute or so of the song.
“Awakening in Spiritual Madness,” the second song on the website (but, as I mentioned, the first on the album) eschews the piano throughout much of its ten-minute duration, substituting a fuller orchestral ensemble to accompany the cold, grim, blackened death metal here — which should appeal to fans of the more symphonic styling of such bands as Dimmu Borgir. The speed alternates between fast black metal tremolo parts, with high-pitched strings to rival the shriek of the vocals, and more mid-paced (or sometimes even slower) doomy death riffing, with vocals more appropriate to that style. Over about the last two-and-a-half minutes, the piano comes in with full force, leading the rest of the way with scales and runs that dance all up and down the instrument and dare the strings and the rest of the band to keep abreast.
Finally, “Seasons of Infinite Sorrow,” which also nearly approaches ten minutes in length, goes out with quite a bang, pairing the piano and orchestra in an epically composed tour-de-force piece filled with sudden changes. Here we also find plenty of impressively perfomed guitar solos, which I would be remiss not to point out, in addition to the descriptions of the piano-playing and the other orchestral elements.
In all, the songs found here will absolutely reach out force you to take immediate notice. The recording quality and production value may be on the cleaner side of what you typically hope for in the black metal genre, but it seems to suit the music well, as it allows every note of the piano or guitar to shine through perfectly clearly. On the other hand, some who are not fans of the genre might be put off by the vocal styles, which is unfortunate because the musicianship on display here is simply amazing, and I would highly recommend checking it out.
The band’s 2012 album Theatre of Deception is available to purchase on CD (with or without a t-shirt) or as a digital download via Bandcamp (see the widget below), though the band also recommends you check out this link, where the physical items are also available, because the shipping rate could be better depending on where you live.
Their previous album Obscurcis Romancia was released in September 2002; the CD version has sold out, but this is also available for your downloading pleasure at Bandcamp (see widget below). Also, the following song “As the Desire of Evil is Unsatisfied” comes from that album.
I hope you enjoyed this post – please feel free to share your opinion in the comments below! Until next week… if you happen to stumble across something you’d like to share (or if you are in a band and are trying to get your music heard), just write to me at my Signmeto “scout” page. Thanks for reading!