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Fallen Angel's Domain (2010)

Thulcandra is a relatively new band that plays a style of cold and majestic black metal in the Swedish style. Listening to their debut album, Fallen Angel's Domain, one would never guess that they are actually from Germany. This L.P. shows strong influences from Dissection's second full-length album, Storm of the Light's Bane. In fact, it is undeniable that Thulcandra sought to do their very best in replicating that masterpiece so much so that they can be considered a Dissection tribute band. Many of the guitar melodies are simply a take on pre-existing riffs and even the structure of the album is the same, with similar intro and outro tracks. There are some other influences as well, but they are all derived from the same source. Whereas Watain seemed to take on the spirit of Dissection and to try carrying that legacy on, incorporating certain elements within their sound, this band is purely a copy.

"In the Realm of a Thousand Deaths" is a brief intro that owes a lot to "At the Fathomless Depths, consisting of an ominous guitar riff that leads into the first main song.

From the opening drum roll to the main guitar melodies, themselves, "Night Eternal" does not stray far from the path established by "Night's Blood". The freezing cold tremolo riffs, blasting drums and raspy vocals all combine to create an atmosphere befitting a solitary winter night. This sounds so much like Dissection that Jon Nödtveidt's family should be getting royalties. There is even a similar acoustic part, later in the song. While none of this is original, at all, it is done extremely well. The melodies are haunting and introspective, and the musicianship is excellent.

The title track, starts out with a fast-paced riff that sounds a bit like Unanimated, before transitioning to more Dissection-worship, in the form of icy tremolo melodies and some thrash riffs, as well. This song is a bit peculiar, as the production is still just like that of Storm of the Light's Bane, but the vocals take on a deeper pitch and some generic death metal riffs are mixed in with the frigid black metal melodies. This does not detract, too much, from the song and is easy enough to ignore.

As expected, the fourth track begins with an acoustic intro in the vein of "Where Dead Angels Lie". "Frozen Kingdom" possesses a sombre atmosphere, moving along at a slower pace than the previous songs. This is actually more reminiscent of Unanimated's latest album, In the Light of Darkness.

"Everlasting Fire" is another track that sounds like a mixture of Dissection and Unanimated, dominated by a dark and frozen atmosphere. The cold tremolo riffs are accompanied by thrashier passages, along with mournful chords that add another layer of gloom to the proceedings.

"Spirit of the Night" is reminiscent of "Thorns of Crimson Death", with the riffs working well to give it a more epic quality. Much like the song that it is emulating, it takes a few moments to build up before moving along at a more relaxed pace. It is at this point that one notices how generic the lyrics are, compared to those penned by Nödtveidt. The influence is certainly there, but the skill is not. The same can be said for the melodies. They are good, but it has all been heard before.

This is followed by "Legions of Darkness", which almost has a similar vibe to early Dark Funeral, showing that Dissection was not the only Swedish band that these Germans grew up idolizing. It is rather strange to hear the other influences, since the production is completely geared toward replicating the sound of Storm of the Light's Bane. Near the end of the song, there is even a clean guitar part that is added on top of the rest, though it sounds really out of place and does not work as well as the band had hoped.

"In Silence We Eternally Sleep" is a piano outro that tries very hard to imitate "No Dreams Breed in Breathless Sleep", though this is aided by a bit of synth and still fails to imbue the listener with the same sort of feeling. At this point, it becomes clear why it is unwise to try to replicate a classic album, whether it is the same band or not, since anything that is too similar will end up falling short since the comparisons would be unavoidable.

Unfortunately, the album does not end there. Thulcandra decided to include a cover of Dissection's "The Somberlain", which is one of the most incredible songs ever written and no other band would be able to truly do this song justice. This track was a mistake, pure and simple. For one, the execution could have been much better. Secondly, this one song features better songwriting than the whole rest of the album, and makes the band's original material seem quite amateurish.

This is, very much, the type of album that most Dissection fans were dying for, when Jon was released from prison. The fact that Reinkaos sounded nothing like this was a major disappointment for many, yet it would have been severely criticized if it had since that would have meant that he was merely repeating old works. What Thulcandra did here was to provide Dissection fans with more material in the vein of Storm of the Light's Bane, with a bit of Unanimated thrown in. That is, really, the only value of this release. They do a fine job of emulating their heroes and it is nice for some to hear more music of this sort, but these guys are doing nothing but riding the coattails of a band that was far beyond anything that they will ever be capable of. Fallen Angel's Domain should appeal to fans of the aforementioned bands, but it is more of an addendum rather than something that can stand on its own.
(25 Nov. 2011)

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