Limbonic Art – “In Abhorrence Dementia”

Too often an album is reviewed after only a few listens. This temptation befalls not only zealous fanboys and “noobies”, but also the more literate demands of a zine reviewer. I had belonged to both classes of writers, but after a long hiatus I have returned with a new idea of what it means to justly encapsulate an album’s merit into words. So I begin with In Abhorrence Dementia, one of few albums I have given so much devotion to fully understand and appreciate.

For the span of a year I honored Limbonic Art as my favorite band. I immersed myself in their works, giving every detail its due. At this moment only a fraction has withstood the test of time. Moon in the Scorpio captivates me with a transcendent aura, while Ad Noctum provides a malevolent catharsis to my deepest hatred. But in between these opuses comes the masterstroke, the pinnacle of complexity and creative energy: In Abhorrence Dementia.

I came to understand this monument not only as Black Metal or even symphonic Black Metal, but as the transcendence of the former and the quintessence of the latter. Imagine Black Metal as Judaism and symphonic Black Metal as Christianity. Limbonic Art as saviors have resurrected from the ashes of the 2nd wave a fresh interpretation of extreme music. They sculpt the maligned dualism of SBM not into a unity of opposites but a colossal symphony. For as Beethoven expanded the classical orchestra, Limbonic Art count guitars and percussion not as the base elements but as just another rank of instruments: stops on the console. 

Such a paradigm is unique to In Abhorrence Dementia, where on other albums the standard Metal template was favored. That’s not to say the aesthetic is gone; punishing drumbeats, atmospheric guitars and banshee vocals pervade the massive soundscape this album conveys. Through this ether the orchestra weaves melodies and harmonies at multiple levels. For example, the flutes take center stage opening songs like “Descend to Oblivion” while the piano shines on “A Demonoid Virtue”. The full range of synthesized instruments work in ensemble rather than taking turns backing up the guitars. One could listen to this album ten times and focus on a different layer each time.

This diversity flows with remarkable consistency, from ambient passages to majestic climaxes. The latter of which often demonstrates the best use of clean vocals in Black Metal (i.e. the title track). It runs the gamut of emotions, from brooding darkness to apocalyptic glory, to carnivalesque insanity. A church organist once called this the “soundtrack to a Hieronymous Bosch painting.” It is a must for any metalhead inclined toward classical music. So rarely is the synchronization of extreme metal and classical music so deftly executed: Limbonic Art’s finest hour.

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