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Magus Noctum - "The Fall of Shin\'ar"
Leather Throne 2004

Here it is! The second full - lenght from Ljubljana's great night mages of extreme metal. And I mean that word by word. Why keep all of you readers in suspense - this one's even better than I dared expect. You might as well go get it first and read on later.

Okay, let's start at the beginning. I dislike sorting music about, but, anyway: the overall genere definition of this recording is near impossible, save to say it's Magus Noctum at their best. The fact that they are a most creative and original band thus remains standing. The music combines elements of black metal, death metal and sundry with various unique approaches. I'd call it, ummm... majestic epic mystical oriental extreme metal - and it's not all that lies in the rich and powerfull music. You just can't put it in a few words.

The sound, with all of "the touch" of the first record and then some, is sharp, clearly expressive and overwhelming as well. Although the individual parts are delivered as personally as a knife in the guts, the overall hits you like a stone wall at 100 kph. A really ancient and epicaly proportioned stone wall, that is. And it should too, since The Fall of Shin'ar is a compact and wholesome entity - conceptually and musically. Magus Noctum have built upon the majesty of sound that designated the first album (Guardian of the Desert) and - on this release - achieved a point which many bands strive hopelessly for even with the help of symphonic orchestras.

The overall tempo of the album is rather fast, yet it is hard to speak in general terms, since there is no lack of diversity in the music as a whole and in the rhytm / tempo field as well. The drumming is intelligent and dynamic, never lacking in either raw powered blasts or a variety of more technical passages which still pack a punch of primal energy. A mighty punch. As a firm and dynamic bass line is added, we get a powerfull rhytm section which adds a lot to the majesty of the sound as well as the variety and complexity of the music - and not just rhytm, either.

The guitars are trully impressive, both as an integral part of the record and taken individually. Far from the stereotypical monotonous drone of extreme metal mediocrity, you'll hear them do just about anything. Heavy, pounding riffs, melodic harmonies, lightning fast soloing, you name it. And they perform - as well as fit in - perfectly, structuring the melodic framework of the music, creating and / or upholding the atmosphere, providing the chrushing riffs, roaring with speed and power that makes extreme metal burn with its own special fire.

And then, the keyboards. Whether it's the ambiental sounds or the eerie melodies, they are an integral part of the band's music since the very first demo and still going strong, even stronger. With the conceptual nature of the album, the keyboards' role is of utmost importance, as they "set up the scenery" so to speak. And if the rhytm and the guitars take you away musicaly (but not just musically), the keys actually take you away to the distant deserts and times, deep into the epic magic and mystery. The keys carry many of the oriental - and cosmicaly - mystical ambiental - melodies, as well as infuse some crucially placed and rather spacy sounds.

The oriental feeling, the melodies, were always present in the Magus Noctum sound as one of the key factors that made the band stand out from the others. Now they are carried even further on the wings of the almighty metal guitars which stay true to the oriental melodic to the point of integrating them into the soloes yet infuse them with their own metal wrath, making the sound epic, mystical and highly agressive at once. The result is an emotionally charged and musically intelligent record, high on both raw power and originality. The feeling carries even further with the vocals. The vocals, now performed by Varg Gorgoneion who is also the guitar virtuoso and assisted by Duvall, the keyboard master, are pure blackmetal wrath with an out - of - this - world feel, essential for the atmosphere and well fitting to the concept of the album.

As I have said, the album is of a conceptual nature, although I would not call it a "concept album", since it's far from being that single - minded. It tends to explore the concept rather then just drone out a narrative. As for an actual guide to the lyrical contents of The Fall of Shin'ar, the band have provided a very informative and extensive one on their web site, and it's deffinately worth to read. The lyrics are rich and expressive, delivered in a very proper musical package, so that the message comes through most wholesomely.

A very proper production makes for a crisp, clean sound that lets all of the elements of the album shine individually and as a whole. And this seals the package - The Fall of Shin'ar is a masterpiece. Magus Noctum have outdone themselves creatively and technically. This one has all the power, the dynamics, all the energy and all the originality an extreme metal fan could ever hope for. As far as I'm concerned, it can serve as a lesson to a whole lot of major bands. As for you... still reading? GO GET IT!

Author:   Jaša

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