Review in Lordsofmetal
Music is such an emotional thing that you really have to be in the mood to appreciate some of the albums. Does music ought to be a constant expedition to new challenges? Cross boundaries? If you nod positive on these two questions, check out ELEND. Prophecy Productions has always been known for his special releases and here we are with another example. Sunwar the Dead is a CD that demands devotion of the listener. You have to invest a few hours before you will appreciate this cry for attention, for nothing is simple on this album. It is the second album of a five-albums-cycle started with Winds Devouring Men (2003).
ELEND is heavy stuff, very heavy. Not in terms of ponderous riffs or flogging drums but based on stodginess. But if you look through the veil of atrabiliousness, a world of beauty appears. Lyrically personal themes are combined with references to ancient Greek authors. When telling you that the three core members are assisted by fifty instrumentalists and vocalists of the Ensemble Orphique, it is a wonder there are so many moments of relief.
In "Chaomphalos" the orchestration is traversed by a soprano and murmur. Music as a slumbering volcano eruption. "Ardour" is furious and dark, sung in a magnificent way by a clear male voice, a semblance of resignation. The solemn spoken fragments and the French language give it even more élan. This is music to listen to with headphones! Threatening violins dominate Sunwar the Dead, as if clouds collide above valleys of green while a thunderstorm approaches unavoidably? interpreted by inauspicious percussion. Beware of some uncomfortable feelings while listening. More gentle are those violins in "Ares In Their Eyes", but the strongest trump is the serene voice of one of the male musicians. Just take the chaotic instrumental parts for granted, they emphasize the moments of poetic lyricism. For "The Hemlock Sea" sounds like reciting a poem. Sometimes I get the shivers from this juggling with sounds ("La Terre N'Aime Pas Le Sang"). But most of the time I appreciate this album very well.
Music for a tense audio-play. This crossed my mind while listening to the moaning voice, eerie strings and exploding orchestration of "A Song Of Ashes". Only in the weird "Poliorketika" we hear female solo vocals again. It seems like the Apocalypse is near and we better hide in serene, ecclesiastical chants. After scrawling three pages and several times listening I am still not through with it, so I conclude that Sunwar the Dead calls up any schizophrenia in me. But the male vocals that are in between Greg Lake and Jim Morrison (because of the diction) are delicious. Adventurous music lovers who are not afraid of any avant-garde, classical and bombastic tunes will do well to discover the world of ELEND.
Rating 78/100 (details) (c) Vera Matthijssens