Originally written by Erik Thomas
Slovenia’s Dekadent is a new act to me, but after reading some glowing press, I checked the band out for myself, and now I can hopefully expose this superb act to a wider audience here at MetalReview.
For many, symphonic black metal is a gimmick, a brazen mutation of a once pure and misanthropic genre brought into the collective awareness of Joe Public by bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir. Heck, even the genre’s once proud bastion Emperor strayed off course and subsequently broke up.
But for me, symphonic black metal is all about majesty and regality, and when it’s done well, I enjoy the genre immensely, as sweeping classical orchestration mixed with metal almost always wins in my book. I simply love the likes of Anorexia Nervosa, Thyrane, Arthemesia, Stormlord, Bal-Sagoth and recently, Arkheth. But until I heard Dekadent, symphonic black metal has lurked in one of three areas; epic yet dark, gothic and romantic, or overblown and theatrical, but has always maintained a sense of black metal menace, regardless of the symphonic sheen applied. But with Dekadent, there’s something different. Something…..uplifting.
While certainly culling from the three areas I listed above, there’s something about Dekadent that’s unique, puzzling and evocative in their sense of majesty. The song structures are less about tremolo-picked riffs and simple, backing programmed synths. There’s a huge, tangible sense of actual emotion here that’s, frankly, a refreshing change. It’s overtly overblown and regal, but also delivered with this sense of happy, cinematic and unapologetic grandiosity. Not cheesy, bouncy, folk metal happy, but a glorious, new-day-dawning, children-laughing, optimistic and revelatory atmosphere that has to be heard to be appreciated.
While still a black metal sense of militant riffage and rasped vocals (which reminded me of Samael), the backbone is paced, measured and equally emotive, full of inspiring solos and hooks. But the keyboards of vocalist Artur Felicijan are simply awe-inspiring. Not content to deliver clichéd, processed, Wagner-esque crescendos, or hokey cheesy keys, the entire context of the album is wreathed in a cinematic, regal aura that glows with majestic, stirring and mostly positive atmospheres. This isn’t grim, single-key, haunting atmospherics (though there are some somber moments like “Raided”), but instead, this is unabashedly triumphant. Like the epic peak or climax of any movie score, the tracks swell and ebb within the confines of their black metal paradigms.
Just skip to the album’s glorious mid-section, featuring the likes of “Paramours in Vain” (about 1 minute in), the aptly named “Beautiful Fire”, the bombastic “Craven”, the whimsical “False Endearment” and the rousing “Providential Love”. And tell me those aren’t some of the most gorgeous and sumptuous symphonic moments you’ve heard in the genre. “Sunday’s Lament “ and “In Pulchritude Adorned” tone things down a bit with a more melancholy gothic vibe before the instrumental title track, and as a perfect little end-note, you get my personal favorite, “Day of Solace”. This track just gets me with its rousing horns / brass and somber yet epic undercurrent, like the closing credits of a great movie. I’m satiated, satisfied and in awe of what just transpired.