In the meantime, in January 2023, Italian act Shamael did independently release a second album (Il Suono Di Mille Orchestre Parte I), but I would like to come back on the debut. That first album, Melancholie Der Engel, was actually released two years ago, but it deserves some additional support for sure. I never mind writing down my thoughts on material that isn’t totally new, especially when the quality of that material is worth it.
This outfit is a young one, formed in the beautiful Italian city of Brindisi, by Raffaele Galasso, whom you might know from projects like the productive band (now solo) Gardenjia or Noircure (with amazing new stuff finished and released very recently as well), or from his partnership in Nightcrush. With exception for the lyrics of one track (Way Of Woe, written by the English 19th-century’s painter and poet Elizabeth Siddal, originally known as the sonnet Lord May I Come?), everything was written, composed and recorded, as well as mixed and mastered, by Raffaele himself.
The result is a four-tracker, printed on compact disc, with a sober yet beautiful eight-page booklet (which includes the lyrics; unfortunately I have no idea who is behind the artwork and layout). It got released in a collaboration in between mighty Satanath Records (run by my dear friend Aleksey) and Negre Plany (the latter being a sub-division of Negra Nit Distro). And seen the soberness of the visuals and the unhappiness of the texts, one might already guess it: this stuff dooms and dwells in sadness and despair. In conclusion, this gets translated as well through the average length of each epic (from seven to thirteen minutes), with the four compositions clocking forty minutes in total.
Leaf, Crown Shyness, Way Of Woe and Moonsoon bring forth gloom and enlightenment through an abundant instrumental section. Like many dark-edged, grim Funeral Doom acts, the combination of nostalgic leads, pounding drum patterns, down-tuned rhythm / bass-strings and abyssal growls sort of form the foundation of the better part on the album. These pieces indeed are both melancholic and atmospheric, with dim string-melodies, varying drum-patterns and cavitated grunts. The percussion section is simply amazing, with a nice balance of slowly-pounding, repetitive motives at the one hand, and inventively shaped patterns at the other hand. They do profoundly support the multi-layered wall of rhythm and lead strings, which are not necessarily focusing on tremolo-laden grotesquery, yet rather dwelling in a territory of down-earthed majesty and force.
However, a very important aspect is the use of keyboards. The multiple synths are permanently represented, both on the foreground as well as supporting the structures from behind the screen. It drenches the whole in some Ambient-laden moodiness, uplifting the moroseness and melancholia that characterises the album’s concept. Besides these keyboards, (semi) acoustic fragments too are additionally important, like in Way Of Woe (which also includes dismal whispers on top of the inexorably blunt growls, and sentimental piano excerpts on top of the floating synths). Moonsoon, by the way, also comes with violin chords, resulting in an act of wistfulness and sentimentality.
The sound quality is dense and sort of harsh, slightly unpolished yet very appropriate to the afflicted concept. A surplus is the well-balanced mix of both instrumentation (voices included) and sphere. Okay, the latter has nothing to do with joy, fun and bliss, but the fairness behind (and around) the whole journey gets intensified by the low-tuned yet acceptable production.