Crescent Lament - 噤夢 Land Of Lost Voices review

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Band: Crescent Lament
Album: 噤夢 Land Of Lost Voices
Release date: December 2020

01. 魘臨 Gnawing Nightmare
02. 念伊人 Another Night Of Solitude
03. 暮山船影 Ominous Shadows
04. 夢空 Empty Dream
05. 初霜花 Frosty Flower At Dawn
06. 雁紛飛 Vortex Of Collapse
07. 灰月漸明 Where Ashen Moonlight Shines
08. 破鏡緣 Once Shattered Mirror
09. 北城風雨 Northern Storm
10. 孤燈微微 By The Lone Light
11. 汐別 Tides Of Time

There is a Chthonic connection here: Crescent Lament comes highly recommended by Doris Yeh, this particular album was produced by Jesse Liu, and both bands incorporate the traditions of their native Taiwan into heavy metal. Being well-connected, however, is not what makes an album worthwhile.

Land Of Lost Voices does contain a few musical similarities to Chthonic, likely stemming in part from Liu's production: the thickness of the palm-muted chugging and the percussion recall the scene godfather's more recent albums, as do the occasional intrusions of hoarse, rhythmic growls such as in "暮山船影 Ominous Shadows", and of course relying on the same musical traditions is always going to yield some further comparison. Yet Crescent Lament is on the whole a softer, more melodic, and more symphonic band; with as much volume and power as they can wield at their most emotionally fraught, Crescent Lament still have a tender, balladic temperament weighed down with lachrymose melodies.

Much of this album's permeating melancholy derives from the passionate performance of vocalist Muer Chou, whose lilting soprano slips between breathy songbird and operatic metal delivery. While certainly not as elaborately theatrical as Changchun melodeath quintet Black Kirin, whose vocal style directly mirrors that of Chinese opera, Chou's singing does possess a similar kind of melodramatic charisma. Crescent Lament's lyrics are all in Taiwanese, and singing in this Sinitic language demands a much different approach from the band's counterparts from elsewhere around the globe: the flow of air, the shape of the notes, and the sliding from pitch to pitch all sound unique in a language with this kind of tonal and syllabic structure. It is worth listening to Land Of Lost Voices simply to discover the interpretation of melodic heavy metal in this way.

She is accompanied, in addition to guitar, bass, drums, and keys, by an array of traditional instrumentation. Some components of Crescent Lament's arsenal I don't recognize and won't attempt to identify for fear of proving my suspected ignorance, but some degree of synthesized orchestration is observable in the background, as are several instances of string and wind instruments and percussion joining the ensemble. The xiao, a variety of flute, is credited to guest performer Jack Yang, and the final full track, "孤燈微微 By The Lone Light", features another guest, Po Yu Huang, on the suona (picture a trumpet but squeezed tightly and made five times as piercing). Perhaps the most significant presence is that of the erhu, which is one of my favorite instruments to listen to: it weeps like a violin, shines like an oboe, and laughs like a gentle river (and also shreds like a Ferrari-driving Swede on a few tracks, notably "雁紛飛 (Vortex of Collapse)"). The (mostly) instrumental piece, "灰月漸明 Where Ashen Moonlight Shines," is one of the high points of Land Of Lost Voices; I could listen to an entire album of this, and perhaps I should.

Thanks to its production and its banquet of mellifluous tones, I am compelled to listen to this album simply because of the way it sounds. The writing, then, could be called the aspect most awaiting improvement. There are noteworthy compositions, including the aforementioned "By The Lone Light" and "暮山船影 Ominous Shadows", as well as opener "念伊人 Another Night Of Solitude," which strangely reminds me of the Irish folk song "Rug Muire Mac Do Dhia", but I often find that, as I've just said, I'm listening to this album because of how it sounds and not necessarily because any of the individual tracks have stuck with me. It may all be the same in the end - I'm still listening to the album, and my interest was sufficiently piqued by the first single I heard that I felt the need to review Land Of Lost Voices in full - but some stronger hooks scattered throughout the album would make it a better-rounded experience. I'm nonetheless quite pleased that I found this album in my inbox, and Crescent Lament is one more band to add to the list of great stuff coming out of Taiwan these days.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Written on 23.03.2021 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 67 users
23.03.2021 - 13:32
That cover art is incredibly intriguing; it's pretty unique for a metal release. Looks more like an obscure PSP detective game than a metal album.

I pretty much fully agree with the last paragraph. It's really cool music but I find it hard to pinpoint a particular song that stood out to me.
You are the hammer, I am the nail
building a house in the fire on the hill

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