Black metal is often a solitary pursuit, as there's something about the gelid, tortured song structures and grim, isolationist themes that often draw artists who desire complete creative control. Sombre and atmospheric, Italian act Melencolia Estatica are primarily the work of a single woman, Climaxia (Absentia Lunae), who performs all of the instruments and is responsible for all compositions (with additional vocals from Afthenktos).
Hel's mood is grim and funeral, and the production complements this, sometimes as clear as a tolling bell, at others shrouded as if through a veil. It's also a concept album, following the narrative of Fritz Lang's 1927 dystopian opus, Metropolis, about the idea of a city transformed into a massive machine and a pointed critique of classism. The songs have a gritty greyness to them, as merciless as Metropolis's towering skyscrapers, and the churning pace evokes the misery of labour and hopelessness. This is a skilfully wrought and intelligent album, as wounding as it is well planned.
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