After much anticipation for this new album since it was announced along with the mini-CD mentioned below, we finally have it in our hands and it's truly another masterpiece in a large and full collection of great music from this band. This album is a gem, spanning many of the great styles and musical compositions that we've grown to love over the years from the classic, romanticized medieval styles to the more recent ethnic and dark ambient approaches to the music. All of this spanning ten spellbinding tracks on this album available as a direct download and in a beautiful 6 panel digipack, released on Cyclic Law.
As an avid fan of this project, I was one of many anxiously awaiting the release of this album, so when I first put it on, I was pleased with the various styles from all the different era's of Arcana's music. Bits and pieces from the classic dark, medieval sounds of Cantar de Procella to the soft, ethnically-infused ambient styles very prominent on some of their latest albums including the very enigmatic Le Serpent Rouge are all present on this album. We start it off with the soft, somber sounds of echoing piano and hauntingly, dreamy background ambient sounds. This gives way to the most classic-sounding piece on the album featuring Peter's dark, brooding vocals on "As The End Draws Near" (see Emerald review below for more details).
The album floats along seamlessly blending all of these ethereal and dreamy masterpieces together, some featuring beautiful, stellar and clear vocals while others take on a voice of their own through the instrumental pieces. As with most albums, a few favorites stand out above the rest, though none can truly be discounted on this spellbinding album. In the collection of instrumental tracks that bring out a mood and voice of their own through a sort of spiritual connection, a definite favorite is "Inceptus" with it's subtle percussion moving the track along hypnotically, caressed by various other instruments including a soft and soothing violin and other unknown instruments. This dreamy piece easily envelops the listener in dreamy waves of sound. Besides the opening track, the other mesmerizing instrumental selection that really touched me is the finale to the album "Vinter". Once again, soft, echoing piano is the instrument of choice as this piece gently brings the album to a close.
For those looking for a bit more of the classic Arcana sound that manages to remain a solid staple throughout most of their albums, there is still plenty here to choose from and keep this collection of work easily in the forefront of great albums and a new classic to have in any music-lover's library. The aforementioned "As The End Draws Near" sets the tone, but also standing out beautifully are a few others I would like to mention. "Medea" features prominently the operatic vocals of Ann-Mari Thim which also remind me a lot of what we heard on her other project recently with Seventh Harmonic. However, the solid ethnicly rich side of Arcana shines through the percussion and selection of instruments (dulcimer, etc) and background ambient sounds. A true favorite comes out in "In Memoriam" through the subtle ambient soundscapes and the vocals that are so subtle, yet rich and lush as to nearly be mistaken for another ambient instrument in the varied layers of instruments on this track. This piece also has a video clip to accompany it, available on the artist's website and shared on youtube, facebook, etc. A final selection to comment on is the title track for the album. In many ways like "In Memoriam", the vocals are fairly subtle, though deep and resonating as Peter takes the lead on this track, yet all of the various layers of instruments and more prominent percussion move the piece along at a good pace, keeping the listener intrigued and entranced yet alert and aware of the beauty and soft, yet darker and dreamy moods here.
As you can see, there really is a lot of great material here, though 10 tracks in length, it spans nearly an hour of great music. It's definitely something long-time fans can be pleased with and highly recommended for new-comers as well just getting into this type of music, it's a great introduction. Highly recommended, go out and get it! Rating: 4.5/5