Giulian – All Instruments/Vocals/Arrangements/Lyrics
1. Cenner’ e fummo
2. Fra ciel’ e terr’
3. Virgilio mago
4. Tarentella Nera
5. Sanghe Amaro
7. Sibilla cumana
When a band goes the whole hog with the Symphonic Black Metal approach sometimes they straddle the line between heaviness (and power) and grace; and sometimes they dive into a bottomless pit of cheesiness. Thankfully Scuorn mainman Giulian is right on the money with his approach. An excellent balance of might and fright. Hailing from Naples, Italy, it seems that Giulian has poured all of his native City’s rich ancient history into “Parthenope” (one of the Sirens in Greek/Roman mythology), his debut release.
The album begins with “Cenner’ e fummo”, a typically cinematic intro; portentous, and just a bit pretentious, like unused score from “The Omen”. Proceedings begin proper with “Fra ciel’ e terr”, a psychotic bête noire of a track. It is tightly wound; the symphonic elements snake through the track like blood poisoning through veins. Next up is “Virgilio mago”, a lush vivid hit of venom; like Thrash run through a Gerry Goldsmith filter.
“Tarantella Nera” is a perverse polka which explodes into an orgasm of exquisite rage. It is followed superbly by “Sanghe Amaro”, a cavalcade of excellent riffing. It transports the listener to another time and place entirely; kind of like standing atop a mountain amidst a violent storm.
The pacing of the album is expertly managed as the next choice of track illustrates: the instrumental “Averno”, a deviant dreamstate. A violent reply is required and duly delivered by “Sibilla cumana”, akin to being ripped apart while a baying crowd screams for your disembowelment. Again pacing is key, as it is followed by “Sepeithos”, a less velocitous exercise in dynamics, conjuring imagery of a Roman amphitheatre; the anticipation, the trepidation, and finally a vicious leonine attack.
The gargatntuan title track is dictionary definition epic, a melodic marvel, encompassing all that is great about Symphonic BM (when it is done correctly); menacing, choral, and packed with desperation. The language barrier (for those of us who cannot speak Italian) is meaningless; the lyrical intent is quite clear: a lone frenzied voice yearning for escape before being seduced by a second seductive voice intent on doom. The album concludes with haunting, taunting sirenia of “Megaride”, as though the last vestiges of life are slipping away.
“Parthenope” is a superlative ensemble of drama and fury. Sonically it is not unlike Carach Angren. The guitar sound is rooted firmly in the late 1980s/early 1990s. One minor criticism is that it is occasionally just a bit too sweet; a little more grime would have benefitted it. The whole album is vast and epic in scope, like the aural equivalent of a Hieronymous Bosch painting: chaotic, vibrant and violent. Afficionados of the symphonic are furthur sated by the addition of a bonus disc which encapsulates the bombastic, cinematic elements. A positive dominion of demonic delight.