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The Arcane Odyssey

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Album Review

The vast majority of death metal and black metal bands preach to the choir; they provide brutal, vicious, bone-crushing albums that appeal primarily to extreme metal's cult following, and their attitude is that if people outside the mosh pit don't comprehend what they are doing, that's their problem. But the bands that embrace melodic death metal or symphonic black metal (or perhaps a combination of the two) have had more crossover appeal, often attracting headbangers who aren't necessarily big fans of extreme metal. Sear Bliss' The Arcane Odyssey is a perfect example of a symphonic black metal/folk metal album that could easily appeal to metalheads who appreciate some black metal but haven't acquired a taste for the more unforgiving bands like Gorgoroth and Marduk. While no one will mistake this Hungarian outfit for easy listening, The Arcane Odyssey is a disc that — for all its aggression and intensity — is highly melodic and values nuance, musicality, and craftsmanship. Keyboards are quite prominent on this 47-minute CD, and Sear Bliss don't hesitate to use acoustic instruments that are unusual for black metal (including trombone, flute, and violin). East European folk is an influence, as are progressive metal and old-school power metal. In symphonic black metal, it isn't uncommon for bands to favor a rasp vocals/clean vocals contrast; on The Arcane Odyssey, however, all of Andras Nagy's vocals are rasp vocals. But Nagy makes a point of being understandable, which is another thing that adds to Sear Bliss' accessibility and helps them to avoid black metal's limitations. Bottom line: fans of symphonic black metal and European folk metal cannot go wrong with this excellent CD.


Formed: 1993 in Hungary

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The Hungarian symphonic black metal/folk metal outfit Sear Bliss has earned a reputation for being one of the more melodic bands in Eastern Europe's extreme metal scene. Sear Bliss can be intensely aggressive, and they have the familiar black metal elements (including sinister-sounding rasp vocals, blastbeats, and dark subject matter). But in contrast to vicious, unforgiving black metal bands like Norway's Gorgoroth and Sweden's Marduk, Sear Bliss have been a lot more accessible by mainstream metal...
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