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Fatum Elisum : Homo Nihilis

Fatum Elisum's second album will be a treat for those who enjoy both Death Doom and Epic Doom... and a challenge for the others.

Two years ago, Fatum Elisum from Rouen had their debut demo recording officially released on the prestigious English label Aesthetic Death, known for high quality releases in the more extreme subgenres of Doom. The self-titled album received mostly positive reviews back then. Now, the French Death Doom band returns with an even longer and more varied opus which, however, will not be for everyone.

The sound established on the debut is still largely the same here. Musically, Homo Nihilis delivers Death Doom played the old, uncompromising way – heavy, aggressive, dark and free from keyboards or any other ornamental elements. The style is particularly reminiscent of fellow Frenchmen Ataraxie, and even the production sounds pretty much the same. Fatum Elisum do not quite reach the level of said band, however: The riffs are not as crushing, the guitar harmonies and leads are not as captivating and as a consequence, the atmosphere is slightly less oppressive and depressing. Still, they are getting there and have created a convincing piece of Extreme Doom with strong arrangements and a sense of negativity which few bands are capable of these days.

In comparison to its predecessor Fatum Elisum, the compositions on this album are more complex and also more mature in terms of songwriting. One change is that the occasional faster passages so typical of old-school Death Doom have been cut back considerably. Instead, there are more breaks this time which, again, are very much in the vein of Ataraxie - bleak clean guitars often accompanied by a minimalist rhythm section and tormented vocals. This finally leads to the most important and potentially problematic issue.

One could argue that the vocals (which have been recorded in a church once more) are both the album’s biggest strength and weakness. Strength, because they are the most varied aspect and give Fatum Elisum a more individual, interesting face after all; weakness, because they are likely to put off many potential listeners. The Death Doom aspect of the vocals – powerful, guttural growls as well as painful shrieks – sounds almost identical to what Jonathan of Ataraxie is known for. Even though this tends to seem slightly copycat-like, it is not really negative after all since those vocal styles support the music’s intensity. The clean vocals are more interesting here. They play a much more prominent part on this album and are at least as important as the extreme vocal styles, which is the most striking development the music has undergone. On the one hand, there is a style of singing akin to that of Epic Doom, although not as high pitched as in the case of bands like Candlemass. On the other hand, the singer also uses a technique of melodic bellowing which makes one think of a Neanderthal man swinging his club, resembling some Traditional Doom bands such as The Gates of Slumber and The Doomsday Cult mixed with Pentecost III-era Darren White.

Let me get one thing straight: The vocals are not bad at all. The singer really pulls them off nicely, most of the melodies are good and it is remarkable how seemingly effortlessly he switches back and forth between the contrasting styles and even manages to come up with nuances in between them. Granted, the clean singing sounds somewhat pressed most of the time, but this is also part of that particular style, I presume. The issue is rather that the latter vocal styles are essentially alien to the Death Doom genre. Again, this is basically a positive thing because it turns the music into a conglomerate of different facets of the Doom scene and thus sets Fatum Elisum apart from other bands. But the singing will most likely destroy all the atmosphere and crushing effect of the music for anyone who enjoys Death Doom but is not too fond of Epic Doom and the likes. The combination of dark, extreme riffs with Epic Doom vocals is really a case of “love it or hate it”.

Homo Nihilis is definitely a quality release which proves that Fatum Elisum are one of the better and more interesting new bands around. For those who love both extreme Death Doom and Epic Doom, this album will most likely be a sheer delight. Anyone who tends to dislike one of the subgenres should better listen to some samples before buying this. “The Twilight Prophet” is a good place to start – it presents all the elements which are typical of this album and is probably the best track with its refined arrangement and intense lead guitar lines.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Pulvis et Umbra Sumus
2. The Pursuit of Sadness
3. The Twilight Prophet
4. Homo Nihilis
5. East of Eden

Duration : Approx. 70 minutes

Visit the Fatum Elisum bandpage.

Reviewed on 2011-10-12 by Dominik Sonders
A Dream Of Poe - The Wraith Uncrowned
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