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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Psilocybe Larvae - The Labyrinth Of Penumbra


01. Soul Trekking
02. Haunting
03. Shining Shambhala
04. Trial By Fire
05. Into The Labyrinth
06. Contemplation
07. Fortress Of Time
08. River Of Remembrance
09. No Escape


Whoever invented the term "Dark Metal" must be some sort of marketing genius, because whenever this genre categorisation gets brought up, I get drawn to it like a moth to a flame no matter how many times I end up feeling let down. Psilocybe Larvae is also a self-proclaimed dark metal act, but I am already familiar with the band's previous effort and had a better idea of what to expect, which is a progressive form of melodic death metal.

To their credit, the music in Psilocybe Larvae is indeed a bit dark sounding, and does separate themselves from the usual progressive melodic death crowd like In Mourning. The darkness is not only brought about in terms of clean "atmospheric" segments or synthy backdrops, but there's a certain menacing quality in quite a lot of the riffs, which I'm happy to say sounds quite original. Esteemed Metal Storm reviewer Lucas noted about the music being occasionally "pointless and directionless" in their last release. While the same problem is still present, such moments have been reduced significantly and I found the band has become considerably more engaging in The Labyrinth Of Penumbra. And when the music is on a roll, they really hit you hard - just listen to the track "Shining Shambahla" and you'll know what I mean. From the catchy clean chorus to that odd dissonance, it really captures one's attention. Then they continue bowling you over with a slightly folky section before throwing in a solo, string together something you'd find in an avant-garde album for a bit and leave you breathless with their death metal riffing. And so on… you get the idea. Or not. So just listen to it!

What we have here is a pretty diverse record that's also cohesive. Perhaps the musicians have finally had some magic shrooms when writing the album and had a Mario-esque power-up. It's evident that Psilocybe Larvae has found their own sound this time around, and managed to keep individual tracks distinctive without spoiling the whole picture. In a sub-genre where most have been writing off as being squeezed dry, Psilocybe Larvae has found a firm foothold, making it among the standouts of the melodic death / Gothenburg scene that shouldn't be missed, especially if you want something that breaks the formula set up by the likes of Amon Amarth, Dark Tranquillity and In Mourning.

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