It's been 6 years, but the Greek multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/composer Ayloss, who releases under the moniker Spectral Lore, returns with his third release titled very appropriately III. This time around we have a 2 CD set with about 90 minutes of music, firmly in the experimental black metal mold, but with more than enough nods to classical, avant-garde, doom, ambient, folk, and progressive rock. It's an adventurous, challenging work, with many twists and turns, the instrumentation at times so dense & thick that it seems almost impossible that one person put this all together, but Ayloss was up to the task. Layers of gorgeous acoustic guitar, pulverizing, jagged electric guitar textures, violent screams and inhuman groans, chilling keyboard orchestrations, crashing drums, and meditative nature sounds permeate the ominous yet quite gorgeous "The Veiled Garden", one of the many lengthy & dramatic epics here. The entire album is grandiose in scope, mysterious and frightening at the same time, as a tune like "The Cold March Towards Eternal Brightness" builds and builds in intensity, the raging riffs & jackhammer blast beats hammering your skull for minutes on end before a calming acoustic guitar interlude sweeps you off your feet, helping make the transition to the furious finale. You'll be reminded of some of the more pastoral recordings of prog rock legends Yes, Genesis, and Camel on the magnificent "Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone", complete with some wonderful acoustic guitar passages that will please any fan of Opeth or Agalloch, as well as some flute and spooky keys for good measure. "The Spiral Fountain" mixes the prog with violent yet classy black metal (these guitar riffs are so well done), and "A Rider Through the Lands of an Infinite Dreamscape" ups the blasting & chaos but still manages to display a sense of melody and proggy nature that you don't often see in black metal. Even "Cosmic Significance" shows you that, at the core of III, is a really adventurous progressive rock record, as this tune lays on the Celtic, classical, jazz, and avant-garde elements very thick alongside the tremelo picked black metal styled riffs and bombastic prog overtones.
Definitely not your run of the mill traditional black metal album by any means, this latest from Spectral More is for every prog lover who is looking for that excuse to dive head first into extreme metal. It's powerful, melodic, violent, complex, majestic, and oh so gorgeous all at the same time.
2. The Veiled Garden
3. The Cold March Towards Eternal Brightness
4. Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone
1. The Spiral Fountain
2. A Rider Through the Lands of an Infinite Dreamscape
3. Cosmic Significance