Release date:  January 27, 2017

Over the years the varied subgenres of metal have come together, breaking scene taboos to create music that is as expressive as it is heavy.  Cyclocosmia is a prime example of the power of crossing genre lines to create something outstanding.  Immured, the duo’s second release takes the sludgy power of doom and adds progressive elements.  Shifting time signatures, orchestral string arrangements and operatic vocals create a heavy, dark soundscape that pulls the listener into a story of despair, insanity, and ultimately, death.  Written and performed by James Scott, with female vocals provided by Aliki Katriou, the album is a wild ride, musically and lyrically.  

Over the span of four movements, Immured tells the tale of a vestal virgin convicted of breaking her vow of chastity.  In the Roman Empire, these priestesses of the goddess Vesta were considered so holy that spilling their blood even for the purpose of capital punishment was forbidden.  Instead, vow breakers often found themselves entombed alive – immured to wait for death to take them.  As the album opens a somber intro is highlighted by soaring, operatic vocals that set a tone of despair.  As we move into “Immured Part II” things take a turn in a more metal direction, bringing to mind the melodic chaos of Dimmu Borgir crossed with Evanescence.  A middle eastern flair runs through the guitar work, which is nimble and passionate.  Alternating clean and extreme vocals from both Scott and Katriou create the sense of constantly shifting between despair and madness.  

As the album continues “Immured Part III” brings to mind both Pink Floyd and King Diamond, showing the depth of influences Scott has incorporated into his songwriting.  This track starts as a gothic lullaby before turning into a pulsing extreme metal monster.  Over the course of this track and the album’s finale “Immured Part IV” our narrator leads us through a range of emotions, ranging from hopelessness to anger, into madness, and eventually vows of revenge.  Musically, the landscape continues to shift, building and falling in roller coaster fashion to take the listener on an emotional journey that is both exhilarating and exhausting. 

Ultimately, it’s the deft manipulation of emotion through instrumentation that makes Immured such an effective album.  James Scott is a masterful composer, and as a guitarist creates layers of sound that range from a light breeze to the sound of Cthulhu rising to enslave humanity.  While many bands are successful in filling a specific sub-genre niche, Cyclocosmia bends metal to its whim, intertwining all forms of heavy music to create an EP that mixes melody and brutality to weave an emotional story that will leave fans of extreme music breathless.  

Reviewed by Jim1340



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