Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Immortal Visions - Aquaritia

Self-released in 1993

Well I'm doing something a little different today. I will get around to reviewing more recent albums, but I'd also like to review some albums and demos of the past that never got the recognition they deserve. Immortal Visions' 1993 demo Aquaritia is one of those long forgotten, buried gems of death metal's past. At the time of writing this, Immortal Visions has a grand total of 88 alltime listeners on last.fm, and I alone account for more than 10% of the bands' plays. I'm just trying to emphasize this release really hasn't been talked about much.

Aquaritia is longer than most demos, it's about a half hour long, which is either the length of a long ep or a short full length. The lyrics are unavailable as far as I know, and if they're in English then their obscurity is probably for the best - we can only imagine their mastery of English with song titles like "The All-Seeing Hatered" and "Sometimes They Comes Back", but what Immortal Visions may have lacked in literary value they make up for musically.

The first thing I noticed about Aquaritia was the unique production job. I don't mean to say it's a technical marvel, because quite the opposite is true - whoever mixed this had no idea what they were doing. In the world of old school death metal though, being an expert in audio engineering is far from a requirement. Aquaritia sounds terrible in a great way. The guitars rumble on thirty miles thick on the low end but are distorted enough that the harmonic artifacts on the upper strings are picked up distinctly when tremolo picking happens. The drums don't have a lot of variation or dynamic range but they are loud and distorted enough to sound powerful as the songs plod along. The vocals are highly distorted and sound guttural with a unique and interesting sense of enunciation that lacks forcefulness but are compensated by their relatively high volume in the mix.

"Plodding along" is really how I would describe the pace of this demo. Immortal Visions plays a slow kind of death metal with some of the theatrical sensibilities of doom metal. The songs don't vary a lot in tempo, but they never fall back on boring or generic riffs and they offer plenty of interesting distractions like clean guitar leads and keyboards. Perhaps the single most memorable aspect of Aquaritia is its use of a clean guitar to play the defining lead melody of many songs. The distorted guitars stay on the lower end but play with consistently compulsive rhythms and a really unique and flavorful selection of melody. Underneath all of the distortion and vocals, Immortal Visions aren't playing the same kind of riffs other death/doom bands play, they're quite unique, listenable, and surprisingly suiting to the genre. There's something very exotic about the sound of band as a whole, with their uncliched eastern-sounding clean leads and cleverly brooding rhythms underneath. 

I highly recommend Aquaritia to any enthusiast interested in early to mid 90s death doom, especially the stuff that was more experimental; if you like Phlebotomized's Immense Intense Suspense or even Disembowelment's Transcendence into the Peripheral then you will probably love Aquaritia.

Grade: A

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