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Abstract Maelstrom Paragon

Ramon Claassen's words of praise: forgive us for doing it the long way... in the summer time when the weather is fine I usually don't give a fuck about Black Metal. Bands like TWISTED SISTER, DIO, MAIDEN or SAXON (my "Sunshine Reggae"), and a good beer - that's what I call summer feeling! But HIDDEN IN THE FOG simply rule supreme! I mean, melodic Black Metal on summer festivals in the dark is okay but traditional or even the rather sophisticated stuff HIDDEN deliver simply requires a certain spiritual level I can't reach with the sun shining warm on my belly, the birds singing and the bees buzzing. But let me tell you something: with their new album HIDDEN IN THE FOG did not only manage to put me in a Black Metal mood, no, even the sun stopped shining and right now we're drowning in rain, haha! No, seriously, I always intended to call HIDDEN the only true heir to EMPEROR's throne (okay, let's wait for the new SIRIUS record) but somehow their previous albums never quite reached that level. Maybe a DIMMU level with a completely different approach, though. Now, with "Abstract Maelstrom Paragon" HIDDEN present themselves incredibly mature. First of all, let me brag about their phenomenal skills a bit: the sound has become professional, orchestration and instrumentation are miles above average and the whole album was written in partiturs! Still, the band doesn't forget the non-musicians among their fans: everything is well structured so that nobody gets lost. HIDDEN IN THE FOG seem to have slightly different influences than EMPEROR, though, especially in the classic sector as they sound lighter and maybe a little more cutting. But their true achievement is that their music creates images in the one's mind: listening to the title track for example makes me see a Demons' ball with distorted figures dancing in a palace of ice. They're slaves to the music for as soon as the band starts blasting, the creatures are forced to slaughter each other until the song becomes mellow again, making them dance together once more. Yeah, I know I'm sick but what really makes me furious is the fact that as far as I know the band still doesn't have a record deal! Unbelievable! Don't you dare and hesitate getting this piece of excellence, try to catch 'em live as well and visit the band's great website now! F. Cthulhu E.'s praise: this certainly is the an album that is bound to re-define Black Metal standards in the German scene. Moreover, I predict that HIDDEN THE FOG will be one of the next German underground acts that will arise from the pits and receive their well-deserved recognition and public appreciation. That is for sure. Why that is so? Well, the band has been standing for high - standard material for quite a while now, but this album surpasses all the previous recordings they've accomplished so far. I don't think there are many acts in the Black Metal scene that can compete with this complexity, this subtle juxtaposition of symphonic ingredients and varying Metal attacks (parallels to EMPEROR and LIMBONIC ART are evident in this respect...). Let me just quickly comment on the five entities that constitute this jewel: 'Introitus' - the intro as you may guess. Warped synth sounds with a snarling voice hovering above... very spherical. 'Mirages Of Redemption' - the first actual track on the album... very complex interweaving of melody lines, partly some fragile oriental leads. A worthy opener so to speak. 'Nautilus (Swimming Through Oblivion)' - this track is introduced by acoustic guitar pickings that are accompanied by polyphonic male vocals... very melancholic. There is an exceedingly solemn and festive interval in the middle of the track, which adds a very special note I think. The bass-work is brilliant in this song, quite playful actually. At the end the track is resolved by progressive chord-work, which suits the bizarre atmosphere just right. 'Abstract Maelstrom Paragon' - again there are quite progressive chords. This time at the beginning of the track. The oeuvre develops into an intricate and complex masterpiece of black magic. Finally it is rounded off by a major-resolution, which I deem very festive again.'Dignity's Fall' - this song is so very fierce and dynamic. Very fast drumming at rates... one can sense that Botis, the drummer, is a CRYPTOPSY freak, hahaha. Just in brief an evaluation of the musicianship and its qualities - I think the guitar-work, Gash and Gorbag are doing, sounds so skilful and precise, the sound is a pleasure, too... no further comments. As a I mentioned above, the bassist, Draug Carcharoth, is doing an extremely filigree job as well. He doesn't just support the guitarists but he evolves his own secret life in the compositions... exquisite! Botis, the drummer, is doing such a good job, too. Very tight drumming (except for a few rolls... but these flaws are minor in nature!)... the only thing that bugs me is the bass-drum sound. I think it somehow doesn't fit into the very good overall sound of this record. It's too cold, too technical... if you know what I mean. But that is personal taste. Then the singer (???), Gash, who's also playing guitar - he sounds so very wicked and venomous. I reckon he gargles little snakes every morning to get into gear and vomit forth these ghastly vocals. My opinion? Definitely a must-have and a very promising release of these Black Metal masters... buy or die!, Two truly impressed and flabbergasted reviewers

Ramon Claassen / F. Cthulhu E.

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