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Peccatum - Strangling From Within CD (album) cover



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4 stars Strangling From Whithin is a bizarre and captivating blend of baroque classical with experimantal blackmetal somewhat similar to Ihsahn's later work with Emperor. I will state early in this review that it is very different to the more popular In A Reverie, having a more rough and raw blackmetal tone to the guitarwork, and it focuses much more strongly on classical aspects rather than the blues and ambience that made In A Reverie distinctive.

It is not a particularly accesible album, common complaints being that it is too operatic and bizarre to please many fans of Ihsahn's work with Emperor and too sinister for fans of more mellow prog metal. That said, it is a shockingly unique, sophisticated composition showcasing the abilities of one of the finest minds in avantgarde metal and i suspect that the reason many find the album so inaccesible is because there is nothing else quite like it. Seven years after its release, it is still ahead of its time.

The musicianship and composition is first class, though some may bring the tone into question as matter of personal taste. The strings have a chilling baroque tone and Ihriel's operatic vocals and occasional screams in particular add a shrill sharpness to the music that may take a few listens to begin to appreciate.

What to rate this album really depends on who i am recommening it to. It is an aquired taste perfect for fans of avantgarde metal, or fans of extreme progressive metal looking for something new with a strong classical element. It has the artistic "something extra" such listeners seek, and would highly recommend it as a masterpiece to that select audience. However, it is just a bit too much an aquired taste for me to tag a 5-star rating on to it, so i'll give it a 4 and let the reader scale that up or down in their minds depending on how well such a style of music appeals to their personal tastes.

Report this review (#84799)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Norvegian black metal band EMPEROR (defunct since 2001) obviously has been a prolific source for highly talented musicians with an artistic pretension going far beyond their original genre's limits. Guitarist Tomas Thormodsæter Haugen (aka Samoth) joined ARCTURUS in 1993, bassist Terje Vik Shei (aka Tchort) played guitars together with GREEN CARNATION and Bård G. Eithun (aka Faust) contributed drums on ULVER's "Perdition City" album. Now then PECCATUM is a project of EMPEROR's second guitarist Vegard Sverre Tveitan (aka Ihsahn) joining forces with his wife and his brother-in-law. Their gritty and ambitious debut "Strangling From Within" is a quite extreme avant-gardistic type of work which will certainly not appeal to the common black metal fan. Being in its music style not too far away from ARCTURUS' stuff (just imagine addition of female vocs) it's in parts a difficult to access tightrope walk between theatrical drama, classical, industrial and black metal. Especially the female vocals which contribute mainly to the strongly classical touch of this album are reaching at times pitches that might hard to be supported by some more sensitive ears. The album is divided up in two chapters where tracks 1-5 make up the first and tracks 6-9 the second one. The multilayered compositions display throughout a quite maniac and depressive atmosphere, a kind of desolation and emptiness that will most probably not appeal to fans of standard melodic prog metal but I'd highly recommend this album to any open-minded music lover with an affinity to rather insane black/death metal. Especially the ones who are into Scandinavian avant metal scene will like it. Maybe not to be called an essential one necessarily since it's rather an acquired taste but anyway an excellent debut deserving some more attention actually.
Report this review (#84814)
Posted Wednesday, July 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Strangling From Within is the debut album from Norwegian experimental metal band Peccatum. Peccatum was to start with a project band for Ihsahn, frontman and guitarist in infamous Norwegian black metal band Emperor but after Emperor disbanded Peccatum became Ihsahnīs main focus for a couple of years. Peccatum is very different from Emperor but it might appeal to the ones who favoured the last Emperor album Prometheus - The Discipline of Fire & Demise or Ihsahnīs solo albums.

The music is black metal inspired without actually being black metal. The black metal feeling is mostly due to Ihsahnīs growling. The pace is generally much slower than on any of Emperorīs output except for The Change which has blast beat sections. There are both classically inspired female singing and more avant garde high pitched screams from Ihsahnīs wife Ihriel, clean vocals from Lord Pz and both black metal rasps and clean singing from Ihsahn. Lots of orchestral keyboard themes swirl around in the compositions making the music symphonic, multilayered and at times complex. Thereīs some kind of twisted beauty in the music but not the kind of simple melodic beauty that bands like Within Tempation or Nightwish create.

The musicianship is great and once again Ihsahn proves why he is considered one of the most important musicians on the Norwegian metal scene. The vocals from the three members of the band are the main focus on Strangling From Within and all three are great singers. They all have a personal approach to singing.

The production is very good. Clean and sharp. No one is credited here for playing the drums and they might be computer created for all I know. They sound great though.

Strangling From Within is a good experimental metal album. It doesnīt quite fit my taste but I can appreciate the will to experiment and innovate which has always been a dominant part of Ihsahnīs music. 3 stars is well deserved and I can fully understand if others give this one 4 stars. The compositions are of very high quality so itīs a matter of aquired taste for me with this one.

Report this review (#182586)
Posted Tuesday, September 16, 2008 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars PECCATUM was one of the side projects of Ihsahn formed in 1998 two years before he finally broke up Emperor and was one of those husband and wife team things that he did with his significant other Ihriel which she initiated as her first musical project and of course how could Ihsahn refuse getting involved. The band was basically Ihsahn and Ihriel although her sister Lord Pz added vocals on the first two albums. PECCATUM lasted for eight years and released three albums before Ihsahn embarked on a solo career and Ihriel went more in the folk metal direction with Hardingrock and solo as Starofish.

Although this debut STRANGLING FROM WITHIN prognosticates much of what would constitute the average solo album from Ihsahn in the following decade and beyond, there are a few key elements that differentiate the PECCATUM project. While the gnarled progressive black metal riffs and gothic underbelly evoke the following Ihsahn albums, STRANGLING FROM WITHIN is more like a symphonic classical compositional album that is dressed in black metal clothing. The opening "Where Do I Belong" insinuates a less metal experience than anything Emperor churned out and the album is brought more into the realms of opera by Ihriel's high pitched vocal style however it's her one trick pony screeches that bring this album down a few notches.

"The Change" and its rampaging progressive black metal attack charges at a furious tempo with blastbeats and sounds like something that should've been on an Emperor album but the following "The Song Which No Name Carry" displays a very avant-garde swagger that would become one of Ihsahn's signature styles once gone solo. "The Sand Was Made Of Mountains" brings back the symphonic elements with feisty keyboard heft and jittery guitar parts along with a more jazzy drumming style. This tailor made progressive song brings out some of his most knotty workouts before the album slows down a bit and culminating with the more classically infused lengthy "The World Of No Worlds" and "And Pray For Me."

Overall there's some great moments on this album but Ihsahn's bestial black metal vocal style along with Ihriel's airy fairy high wails just don't jive together very well making this beauty and beast approach sound like two beasts duking it out in the gender wars. Compositionally speaking the album flows fairly well but the mix of the black metal and classical elements does feel a bit clumsy at times. Once again, i cannot stress how irritating Ihriel's vocals are on this album but luckily they don't dominate and can be forgotten, well, at least until they leap back into the scheme of things. For being a first offering, this album isn't horrible by any means but it certainly isn't Ihsahn's swan song either especially considering this was released while he was still in Emperor.

Report this review (#2504456)
Posted Thursday, February 11, 2021 | Review Permalink

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