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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Angelic Foe - "Mother Of Abominations"

Artist: Angelic Foe
Album: Mother Of Abominations
Year: 2015
Label: Equilibrium Music
Genre: Neo-Classical, Darkwave
Website: www.equilibriummusic.com

Angelic Foe is the new-ish project of Annmari Thim, best known for being the female vocalist of Arcana. Mother Of Abominations is the second album from the project, though unfortunately I am unfamiliar with the debut so this is my first experience with them. As expected, this album is fairly reminiscent of Arcana in many ways, while also being it's own unique entity in the neo-classical / (dark?) medieval style.

I've always been a huge fan of Annmari's vocals in Arcana and was rather excited to check out this project. On the vocal front it absolutely succeeds - her vocals are as good as they ever were in Arcana and with this project she has the room to fully take the lead and be even more diverse in her delivery. The opening track "Daughter Of Comfort" sets the stage for what can be expected on this album - lofty, cinematic soundscapes and bombastic percussion. Apparently the lyrics for this track are from texts by John Dee and Edward Kelly (enochian magic, bro) so this immediately has my attention. It feels as a sort of prologue & overview which introduces us to the world we'll be exploring for the next 8 tracks. While the opener is good, but seems more suited to being background music, the second track "The Get" is more engaging and catchy. The perfect amount of catchy melody coupled with steady, heavy martial-leaning drumming while the vocals are suitably up front and grab the listener's attention. This song is like the scene where we meet the films protagonists and get psyched for the journey they are about to undertake, as the peons offer cheers and the priests offer them talismans to aid them on the path ahead. The next track "All Her Princes Are Gone" does a good job working with dynamic moods, as it ebbs and flows through several movements during its duration. At this point we hear the sombre-yet-hopeful mood of our heroes setting off their long tumultuous quest. The rest of the album follows this same path, accented with a hobbit tavern here and there, grandiose meetings with charming forest spirits, and numerous epic (so much epic!) scenes of travelling across mountains and/or forests. After much exploring we arrive at track 7: "Workers Of Harm" which is one of my favorites. It's very catchy and the steady percussion carries an almost industrial/mechanical feel. Here the heroes (presumably elves, because elves are the best) have arrived at the mines and are asking the dwarf king for some ore to make better weapons for the final battle. Which brings us (after more epic travelling and seeking advice of the spirits in "The Judgement") to the closing track "Enemies of God" which takes the listener through our fantasy movie of choice's final epic battle where it slows down to emphasize the struggle, and zooms in on the main elf who begins to lament that his crew is getting taken out and he needs to perform some heroic act to win this thing - and then he does cause the last couple minutes of the song are real uplifting. As you can see, I pretty much mentally wrote my own High Fantasy story while listening to this -- easy to do as it's so evocative; and I encourage you to try the same - these tracks really bring your imagination to life. This is pretty much the ultimate Renaissance Faire album, or accompaniment to any given Tolkien or related book.

Angelic Foe lies somewhere between the soundtrack to a well-produced epic fantasy movie and the best moments of Arcana. Musically and production-wise, the album is absolutely incredible and I can't say anything bad about it. The instrumentation excels at conjuring fantastical imagery, the drums are punchy & driving (and epic, duh), and the vocal performance is stellar - I'd also like commend the vocal production/mixing which is masterfully done (perfect use of reverb, harmonies, etc). Fantastic mixing & mastering by Peter Bjargo (of Arcana, et al.) However, stylistically this album is not always my cup of tea and it has some moments which I feel are too cheesy. But seriously, despite not always enjoying it subjectively, I can objectively say that Mother Of Abominations is a really, really well made album and I'm positive that fans of this type of epic medieval / neo-classical will absolutely love it.  

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