The thrill of the hunt!
-- Lemuria --
Review written by Glenn Van Bockstaele.
Lemuria is an Antwerp-based symphonic black/folk metal band established in 1999 (as Spinal Chill until they renamed themselves to Lemuria in 2001). After the release of their second album in 2010 (Chanson De La Croisade) the band suffered multiple lineup changes until fully emerging again in 2018 and announcing their third studio album, “The Hysterial Hunt,” released through German record label Massacre Records. Since Stijn and I are both huge Lemuria fans, we contacted the band’s management and record label to have the album emailed over to us, which they did, thanks a lot, folks!
The album opens with “Prologue (The Land Of The Beast),” a menacing orchestral intro ending with a girl whispering about the coming darkness. Then things kick off for real with the single “A Plague Upon The Land,” a powerful symphonic black metal song that functions as an additional world building track, depicting a cold and violent medieval realm using a catchy main melody, crisp shrieks from vocalist Daan and occasionally appearing blast beats. This song’s ending of bell chimes transitions into the opening of The Hysterical Hunt’s title track, an extensive and varied symphonic black and folk metal tune with raw male and operatic female vocals, guitar riffs and drum beats tagging along with banjo and violin. And to top it all off, it features Belgian actor Herbert Flack narrating the album’s story of a werewolf ravaging the Gévaudan province (nowadays called Lozère, located in southern France) and the French king offering a rich reward to whoever’s brave enough to kill the bloodthirsty beast! Logically, the next track is therefore called “Between Man And Wolf,” continuing the story, maintaining the delicate balance between black, symphonic and folk metal styles and instrumentation and once again featuring female guest vocals.
Then comes a short instrumental track called “As Darkness Falls,” having a similar epic yet threatening feel as the album’s opener before the release jumps towards its sixth song, “Of Winter And Hell,” a more guitar driven song with only a small section of medieval styled melodies. Up next is the 9-minute long “A Secret Life,” a much more melodic and upbeat song featuring guest vocals from Alexandra Kastrinakis from Austrian symphonic power metal band Daedric Tales (whose high notes are pretty impressive) until Lemuria’s own vocalist Daan takes over as the song gradually transitions to a darker and more black metal inspired style. Track 8 is one of the fastest and heaviest songs on the album, “Deceptive Hibernation,” with drummer Vincent in particular going for some brutal and rhythmic drum beats along with Daan adding guttural vocal lines to further add to the song’s brutal atmosphere.
Then comes another short instrumental intermission in the form of “An Elusive Monster,” a song guided by operatic female chants and flute as the song slowly gains additional percussion and intensity. The album’s tenth track, “Endgame (The Impending Truth),” another fun track featuring all the traits that we’ve already seen multiple times throughout the album and wrapping up with beautifully melodic guitar work. Then comes the penultimate song, “Epilogue (Before The Dawn),” a joyful symphonic (with black metal spice) that’s mainly instrumental except for two final monologues. And then the album comes to an end with the bonus track “A Dream That Never Came,” a relaxing folk ballad.
Lemuria’s third studio album is an ambitious, lengthy and highly enjoyable release, especially for people who love symphonic black metal. The folk music elements from their previous work have been diminished in favor for a more symphonic and heavier style that fits perfectly with vocalist Daan’s natural grunts and shrieks. Personally, I would’ve shorten the tracks a bit since most of them go well over the five-minute mark and they don't always remain that engaging. Plus I would've also cut down on the instrumental intermissions because they also diminish some of the band's momentum. That being said, Lemuria promised to make a darker and more mature album and for the most part they’ve succeeded. Even after all those years Lemuria still pack a punch and they play their intended part of cinematic black metal band better than ever! Now enjoy the official music video for “A Plague Upon The Land!”