Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dark Lunacy - Devoid

I think that Dark Lunacy was one of the (if not THE) first Italian death metal bands to integrate the local and historical baroque and classical music and death metal (let alone melodic death). Although now there are quite a few other Italian death metal groups that do this (most notably Fleshgod Apocalypse), I haven’t really come up with any good ones that have been doing it as long as Dark Lunacy. This album was released during the turn of the century and has a perfectly equal balance of baroque and melodic death. Although Dark Lunacy has greatly improved since the release of this album, Devoid still stands out to me as being an easily enjoyable listen, especially for someone who loves both metal and classical music.

The album kicks off with a single viola playing a creative line which is then lightly blanketed by the deep, distorted guitars. There are then parts with wordless choir harmonizations that are very far in the background (sometimes barely hearable). The reason why I think that Dark Lunacy has improved since this album is because the symphonic/orchestral/baroque/whatever instruments and elements fail to flow smoothly with the death metal side. Yes, they do make ends meet most of the time, but the two elements need to be able to flow side by side and weave in and out of each other with no hiccups. That’s the big downer about this album; but it’s more understandable because not only was this the band’s first album, it was well over ten years ago. But if you’re looking specifically at this album by itself, the integration of the two elements is fairly weak.

If we ignore that fault that tends to obstruct enjoyment at times, we can find that the songs themselves are extremely colorful, creative, and most of all, innovative. At the time, many people considered Dark Lunacy to be progressive death (until a couple of years later) because of all of the risky and difficult decisions the band made during the writing process of this album. There are many times where it seems like the metal part is in the background and the baroque instruments are in the frontlines. This is still something that I have yet to hear another band do (although I’m fine with it just being Dark Lunacy). I guess that’s why most people that aren’t hardcore Dark Lunacy fans don’t consider Devoid to be the band’s best release; because the classical and baroque elements take control of the melodic death elements a little TOO much. But I don’t really let that get to me except for when it gets to me.

In this album, there doesn’t seem to be anything about any of the individual members that stick out to me. They all seem to be pretty average although they still fit the bill as good melodic death musicians and songwriters. This album has a lot of experimental elements like the baroque and classical elements, certain out of the ordinary guitar effects, and odd song structures. The unfortunate thing is, these experimental elements seem to have been just slapped together without much thought or effort of refining it to make everything flow smoothly. This is a great experimental album, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not what I would consider to be the best first impression. I would give this album 13/20.