The artwork is excellent, the biography was nice and the intentions are interesting. Phendrana "tried to contribute with something new and innovative in the black metal scene". Admit it, that sounds exciting, no? Did he succeed?
Well, before answering that question, we have to take a few things into consideration. First of all, it's not easy to bring something innovative into the already massively varied black metal scene. Many innovative black metal acts have a sound that is already far beyond the genre boundaries. Second, this album was recorded between October 2016 and November 2017. It took the artist over a year but being a one-man project, that is the normal course of events. However, somewhere in that year the artist celebrated his seventeenth birthday. That is very young, considering the fact that there are guitars, drums, bass, keyboards and vocals. Most seventeen year olds are glued to their Playstation or Tinder nowadays. This dude decided to become a creative generalist and try to make an impact on the metal scene.
For that I'll take my hat of.
However, I think Phandrana should take a bold step and leave the black metal world behind him. If this really is one person playing all these instruments, if one person can easily remind me of everything between dark ambient, progressive metal, doom, gothic rock and whatever you want to categorize Pink Floyd as, this person is way too talented to be a black metal musician. I do not mean that in a bad way, on the contrary. Most people won't take black metal seriously and this talent should be taken seriously. He doesn't even have to change that much. Leave the screams behind and he'll enter the realm of progressive metal, like Opeth, like Dream Theater. Mixed with the gothic feel of Tiamat, Moonspell and Epica.
So, that leaves me with one question. Who to recommend this album to if not to black metal fans? Well, let's just say that every fan of progressive rock and metal must surely check this out. Fans of the nineties Götheborg scene will find heaps of sweet riffs. Nostalgic gothic metal fans will love the female vocals by Vera (Caelestis) and the strong rock feel of the whole thing. Post and sludge metal fans will certainly appreciate the cathartic vocals and so on. This is simply excellent progressive metal, one that proves that there is still plenty of talent out there and that modern music doesn't necessarily have to suck.
Well done, very well done.
p.s. All of the above aside, closer 'Gjenganger' is my new favorite black metal song...