Label : Candlelight Records

Review by Lithium

Octavia Sperati’s 2005 debut was one of that year’s better releases. If nothing else, “Winter Enclosure” demonstrated that doom-laced metal was not a dead pursuit within the femme-metal genre. Female-fronted, melodic doom previously had been explored by such acts as Left Hand Solution and to a less-doomier extent, The Gathering. However, The Gathering’s rather abrupt departure from this terrain with 1998’s “How to Measure a Planet?” left an obvious void that went more or less unfilled for the better part of a decade. That is, until the arrival of “Winter Enclosure” set off what could only be described as a collective sigh of relief throughout the entire doomster contingent of the femme-metal fan base. It must be noted, of course, that Octavia Sperati’s particular brand of doom metal is not of the oppressive, plodding variety. It is not the type of doom with which one would associate the bleached bones of hoofed beasts that have died of thirst out in the parched expanses of a desert somewhere, with a pungent cloud of mustard gas thrown in for good measure. No, just as its name suggested, “Winter Enclosure” was a milder, very Gothic style of doom more akin to the somber twilight of a Scandinavian winter. Sophomore outing “Grace Submerged” follows very much in the same vein as its predecessor, though with a decidedly greater overall emphasis on the ‘doom’ side of the Gothic-doom equation. Down-tuned guitars create a rich wall of sound with heavy low-end riffing and a faint whiff of sludge. There is nice variety in the songs on “Grace Submerged” , both in tempo and in style. Some songs have the bass placed right up front in the mix, while others have a piano sprinkled in on the verses. Still others layer in ethereal keyboards for a more Gothic sound. Vocal harmonies sometimes come in quite unexpectedly for emphasis, only to disappear just as abruptly a few bars later. Singer Silje Wergeland has a rich, strong voice with a soft edge. She displays impressive dexterity on this album as she effortlessly moves about her wide vocal range. Silje can start in the middle of the register on a verse, and then confidently bounce from low to high and back again before soaring into the chorus. Her ability to do this is central to Octavia Sperati’s sound, as it enables them to create melodies that are much fuller and more complex. One of the high points is the well-crafted “…And Then the World Froze”. It has a lush, layered sound with separate guitar counterpoint lines woven throughout. This song directly follows what is arguably the most atmospheric number, a piano-ballad cover of the old Thin Lizzy tune, “Don’t Believe a Word”.’ Two additional piano-driven pieces come at the very end of the album. The second of these, “Submerged”,’ is a brief instrumental that serves no real purpose other than as a throwaway closer. When the CD ended I was left feeling a bit like the young child who has just ordered his first sundae at the ice cream parlor, only to discover quite sadly that what he’s been given is much smaller than the giant-sized pictures on the overhead display menu. At just under 38 minutes, including filler, skeptics no doubt will speculate that  “Grace Submerged” may have been sent out the door a little too soon. Still, there should be enough quality material here to justify the price of admission for most listeners, though perhaps in some cases just barely. Bonus enhanced material includes the “Moonlit” video, wallpapers and a photo gallery. Male Vocals: None

Rating – 70/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Guilty Am I
  2. Moonlit
  3. Going North
  4. Don’t Believe a Word (Thin Lizzy Cover)
  5. ..And Then the World Froze
  6. The Final Rest
  7. Deprivation
  8. Provenance of Hate
  9. Dead End Poem
  10. Submerged

 

Line Up

  • Silje Wergerland – Vocals
  • Tone Midtgaard – Keyboards
  • Bodil Myklebust – Guitars, Vocals
  • Gyri Smørdal Losnegaard – Guitars
  • Trine C.Johansen – Bass, Vocals 
  • Ivar Alver – Drums, Vocals 

 

Links

MySpace

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