Sound — 9
First off - before I begin the review get your jokes out about the band name - shamalamadingdong, schamgogedly etc. The band name is Shylmagoghnar. If you want to learn how to pronounce it just look them up on YouTube, they actually have a link on how to pronounce their name. Now that we have moved past that - Shylmagoghnar is quite a band, a mixture of a few subgenres, probably best described as a progressive blackened melodic death metal band with some thrash metal influences. That is quite a mouthful for a genre, but I think that best describes the band and the overall sound on the album. The band is a two man project put together by lifelong friends, who now go by the aliases of Nimblkorg and Skirge. The album originally began years ago with as an outright black metal band; however after returning from hiatus the two found their musical passion and talents had evolved and as such began to pursue a more complex and impressive avenue for the band.
The album opens with "I Am the Abyss" which is an epic instrumental a la early Metallica, on par with songs like "Orion" or "Call of Ktulu." When I say early Metallica do not get confused, this band does not sound like Metallica, but the instrumental is a fairly fast paced 8 minute epic with various lead guitar licks, and a driving rhythm, similar to Metallica's early instrumentals. The next song is the title track which gives us a much better feel for Shylmagoghnar's signature sound, an impressive blend of thrash, melodic death metal and black metal all rolled into one. The fourth track, titled "The World Shall Fall" offers a stronger atmospheric black metal feel, a slow moving menacing track with use of a an eerie synth and heavy drum beat. The middle of the album offers up two more instrumental tracks - "Eternal Forest" and "The Cosmic Tide," although the epic driving feel of "I Am the Abyss" is not present in these two tracks; however there is still considerable guitar work that paints a haunting image in the listeners mind. Similarly the final track - also an instrumental-avoids the driving guitar rhythm and instead uses an orchestral sound to close out the album.
Lyrics — 9
I am sure seeing the terms black metal describing this band has turned off a few people who immediately thought of the black metal shriek and inaudible lyrics; however the vocals on the album are actually an impressive blend of a death growl and black metal shriek. Generally speaking most of the lyrics are fairly audible, and either way they match the overall mood of the album. The lyrics are often philosophical and deal with annihilation and the end of the world. Despite this the second to last song, "A New Dawn" ends on a positive note about the rebirth and emergence of a better world. If you get the chance to look up the lyrics they are actually quite thought provoking and a very welcome change to many death/black metal bands who stick to demons and murder.
Half of the album is instrumental, and after one listen it is easy to see that the band member's main focus on the music, over the vocals and lyrics. That being said these are still very well done vocals, and impressive lyrics. While I do not believe this album is a full blown concept album, there is clearly a continuous theme throughout, and listening to the album in its entirety is far more enjoyable than repeating your favorite track off the album. The lyrics almost read like a doomsday philosophy book, weaving a story of the horrors of the world, its ultimate downfall and hope in a new and better world. Despite the focus on music and four instrumentals, the lyrics proved themselves to be a highlight on the album.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is unbelievable and I highly recommend for fans of almost all metal genres. There is some atmospheric black metal influences, some fast paced thrash and thunderous death metal all rolled into one. With well thought out lyrics and excellently executed guitar play this album turned out to be a huge surprise. The band is currently unsigned, although I am sure that may change soon. The album in its entirety was put up on YouTube by the band, along with links for the Tab/GP for "I Am the Abyss." Currently the band is working on a follow-up album which I will be eagerly anticipating. I have a hard time finding anything to seriously critique on this album, I suppose production could be slightly better, but the sound is really a perfect match for the atmosphere created on the album. The album is available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes; I highly recommend it for something well thought out and fresh if you are tired of the usual metal bands/albums that you find.