Independent Release/Renaissance Records (Distribution)

Review by Mortuai

I’ll give Renaissance Records one thing – they certainly know how to find artists who give the listener something different rather than just more of the same old, same old. Such is definitely the case with Bydgoszcz, Poland’s Sellisternium, a group I am still having trouble finding a straightforward classification for even after multiple listens. A ‘sellisternium’ is, according to both Greek and Roman mythology, a banquet held by the goddesses, and while the band of the same name may only feature one goddess in vocalist/lyricist Anna Pietrzak, it certainly serves up a banquet or perhaps ‘smorgasbord’ is a more appropriate term  of musical meanderings. Originally formed in 1999, the band released a two-track demo in 2000, played local clubs in Poland for a couple years, temporarily fragmented in 2001, then reformed in 2003 with Anna and guitarist Marcin Koleniec as the only members from the original lineup. In late 2006, the band recorded what would become their self-released debut album “Furia”. Renaissance Records picked up the band in early 2008, re-releasing their debut though with a rather obvious change in May. The aforementioned change is almost entirely lyrical and is reflected in the title alteration, for while Furia was written and sung in Polish, the tracks on Fury have been translated and re-sung in English. In addition, a tenth track from “Furia” originally entitled “Impresja do M.” (“Impression For M”) has been dropped from the songs on “Fury”. Quite frankly, I’m not entirely sure the translation was either necessary or beneficial, for while I can appreciate the effort made to make the lyrics more accessible to worldwide listeners, I can’t help but feel they sound better in their original tongue, especially in the frequent spoken-word passages delivered by Pietrzak. When she sings, she generally sticks to a nice melodic mid-high range and sounds just fine though during several of the tracks her voice is swathed in so much reverb-echo it becomes difficult to understand but her accent is very strong in the spoken-word portions, making some of them seem awfully strange, especially the short and bizarre track “Peculiar Thoughts and Others”,’ wherein most of the lyrics are delivered in an off-kilter sing-song fashion. She also occasionally launches into some wicked-toned skin-crawl-inducing whispering portions. If I had to pick comparisons to her voice, I’d have to say she reminds me at times of Cadaveria (minus the black metal shrieking) mixed with a dose of Björk, a strong touch of Diamanda Galás, and even – on occasion – Grace Slick. If that sounds like an unsettling combination, you’re right on the money. Musically, I have to designate Sellisternium as art-rock, mostly because on occasion when I see otherwise unclassifiable work by modern visual artists, I can only shrug and say, “well, I know it’s art not sure quite what it is but it’s interesting”. While the songs feature strong gothic rock/metal elements and some tasty crunch-riffs here and there, there’s also a definite progressive influence to be heard on many of the cuts, calling to mind a bit of Yes and Pink Floyd as well as obvious nods to Dream Theater and similar modern prog-metal bands, hints of classical music, and little bits and pieces of jazz, fusion and pop. One portion of a song even calls to mind the maddening carnival breakdown sections of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” from The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper Days”. Despite the progressive influences, don’t expect solo tradeoffs – there’s actually only one guitar lead on the entire album and it’s in the last two minutes of the very last track which also happens to be the most straightforward gothic-metal-style song, “Verte”. This song also features the most interesting and disturbing vocal performance from Pietrzak in its introduction, where the Galás influence is very obvious as she shrieks, moans, squeals, and whispers incomprehensibly over some dark-toned keyboard drones. Do expect some long instrumental passages though, including the leadoff track “Depression and Me”, which spans over seven minutes of space-rock/gothic metal hybridization and doesn’t feature any vocals at all until the four and a half minute mark and even then, the entire lyrics for the song consist of singing the title a few times as well as a Dream Theater/Evergrey-ish instrumental cut “Discourse with the Viper”. Production-wise, the album sounds fairly good but the rhythm guitars are somewhat flat and buried in the mix on most tracks and the keyboards are quite often overly dominant. Given this is really more of a gothic-rock album than a pure metal album, that’s forgivable, though. “Fury” is not an album for everyone, nor is it for the casual music listener, who might easily become frustrated with the complexity and frequent directional changes. There’s little to grab onto in terms of memorable hooks but it’s certainly an interesting listen while it’s playing. Recommended for open-minded fans of progressive gothic metal and art-rock.

Rating – 70/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Depresja i ja / Depression and Me
  2. Věnêficā / Venefica
  3. Śnieg / Snow
  4. Myśli dziwne i inne / Peculiar Thoughts and Others
  5. Rozmowa ze żmiją / Discourse with the Viper
  6. Sub Rosa / Sub Rosa
  7. Wiosna / Springtime
  8. Rara Avis / Rara Avis
  9. Verte / Verte

 

Line Up

  • Anna Pietrzak – Vocals & Lyrics
  • Marcin Koleniec – Guitars
  • Piotr Kowalski – Keyboards  
  • Robert  Puk – Bass 
  • Piotr Grugel  – Drums  

 

Links

MySpace * Facebook * Twitter

Please follow and like us:
error1
fb-share-icon0
Tweet 20
fb-share-icon20