Since their debut album in 1996, the Norwegian cult of Limbonic Art have helped build a genre with their dark and dreadful sounds. Having remained a duo for the majority of the existence, Limbonic Art is now the sole vision of founding member Daemon and set to re-claim their ethereal throne with their 6th full length, ‘Phantasmagoria’.
After a brief, blood chilling introduction, this 12 song ritual rips you open with the title track, catching your ear and forcing your hands into fists. The vocals on ‘Phantasmagoria’ drip with venom showing no sign of energy or attitude lost over the years. The first four songs do a terrific job of unleashing other-worldly violence and atmosphere while at the same time remaining fresh in your ear with a few almost ‘catchy’ hooks, melodies and grooves. ‘Curse of the Necromancer’ combines some hungry guitar riffs with thick keyboard accents and a driving drum machine to really kick your face in. Rarely do I enjoy so many keyboards in an album but this is how they should be used in black metal, in my opinion. It is difficult to have string sections on top of flesh ripping guitars and hammer-down-the-walls drums but Limbonic Art do it and do it well. After blasting apart your pathetic corpse, ‘Phantasmagoria’ begins the slow and painstaking process of calling it to rise with the dirge ‘Dark Winds’. Haunting, moonlit and only visible from afar, ‘Dark Winds’ represents the opposite end of this albums wide spectrum with the crushing weight of atmospheric and eternal darkness.
Although there is little deviation from the style that Limbonic Art helped to pioneer, ‘Phantasmagoria’ provides only the purest blood for the sacrifice. ‘Apocalyptic Manifestation’ and ‘Prophetic Dreams’ are both unstoppable in their attack while the two epic album closers, ‘A Black Sphere of Serenity’ and ‘Astral Projection’, are towering monuments of doom and gloom, stirring ancient evils until the bitter end.
Having once disbanded for three years, Limbonic Art have shown no mercy since reforming on 06/06/06. The criticisms for using a drum machine or lack of live performances that may have once assaulted Limbonic Art prove to pale in comparison to the vision of mastermind Daemon. With over 70 minutes of non-stop, soul-stealing black metal, ‘Phantasmagoria’ is a welcome addition to the collections of maniacs everywhere who desire only True Norwegian Black Metal at it’s finest.