Rating:
8.0
Hollenthon - Domus Mundi
1999


01. Enrapture - Hinc Illæ Lacrimæ
02. Homage - Magni Nominis Umbra
03. Vestige - Non Omnis Moriar
04. Lure - Pallida Mors
05. Interlude - Ultima Ratio Regum
06. Reprisal - Malis Avibus
07. Premonition - Lex Talionis
08. Eclipse - Vita Nova


Hollenthon, fronted by former Pungent Stench guitarist Martin Schirenc, describe themselves as "Symphonic Black Metal from Austria," though I would venture that their sound is more akin to Symphonic Death. This minor quibble aside, with "Domus Mundi" they have created a flawless symbiosis of classical, ethnic, and metal music, and in doing so have released a most impressive debut.
Symphony and metal have much in common. They both are bombastic in nature, tend to have complex instrumental arrangements, and frequently make use of non-standard time signatures. That so many bands to combine the two musical forms seems natural. However, much symphonic metal sounds forced. In many cases it is simply metal music with symphonic elements layered over the top, and the resulting sound gives the impression that two pieces of music were simply combined into one song. Not so here. Schirenc obviously wrote, and more importantly arranged, the music with both forms in mind, and neither really forces the other into the background.
Supplementing this is a noticeable folk presence in the music. Ethnic chant and traditional melodies are liberally sprinkled throughout the album. In some cases these are played using the traditional instruments, others using modern ones. The effect is to further integrate these sounds into the overall cohesiveness of the composition.
The music here is very evocative. The aforementioned folk content, rather than the more common Celtic or Scandinavian tradition, is of a more eastern bent. Chants of Near Eastern / Middle Eastern origin, combined with Gregorian Chant in some of the tracks, gives the impression of being in Medieval Byzantium. "Vestige - Non Omnis Moriar," in keeping with its lyrical content, is paced by mid-tempo riffing that impregnates the listener's imagination with images of galloping horses. More so than just about any other album I have heard, this one places the mind of the listener at a specific place during a specific time.
Overall, "Domus Mundi" is a superior release that fires on all cylinders. The sound is full of bombast, the performances are technically proficient, and the production is clean. Most significantly, the composition, arrangement, and mix are so masterfully handled that the music appeals on all levels, whether you want to dissect your metal intellectually, or just want to bang your head.

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


Band profile: Hollenthon
Album: Domus Mundi


 


written by HugeTheConqeror | 05.06.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Paradox0 - 13.04.2010 at 23:06  
Pretty wicked debut, although i sometimes felt they kind of lost direction in their "world metal" sound. Luckily, they returned with their subsequent releases with what I felt was a much tighter sound. Overal I give this album a 7.5/10

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