Some albums just grab you and demand attention, they have that quality about them that makes you sit up and take notice. “Simula Et Dissimula” hooked me straight away, it's imperious stance had me tugging my forelock in no time, bowing constantly as I backed off into the dark corner where I belong.
FEARBRINGER is another solo project, which oft times as far as Black Metal is concerned acquaints with high calibre music and this album is no exception. The arrogance and magisterial aloofness evoked by these tracks demands respect and places it on a pedestal that makes it hard to topple it from. In parts this reminds me of a BM FEAR FACTORY, mainly due to the clean singing which throws up images of a corpse-painted Burton C. Bell. Of course the comparison ends there and musically we are talking Black Metal with a cathedral production and possessed of the same stone coldness.
This album is full of soul, it may be dark and twisted but soul it is. The atmosphere often lauded as one of the necessities of the genre is thick enough to choke you blue, the production blurs the edges sufficiently to make the proceedings opaque without obscuring the essence of FEARBRINGER. Songs sweep by with a haughtiness you would normally associate with the high born, for the most part each track bolts from it's hole like an aristocrat from a mob of French revolutionaries. Though it is fast it isn't gratuitously so, it's more a sense of urgency than catch me if you can. “Simula Et Dissimula” stands out for it's clean singing, it is used frequently and is often harmonised, it acts as a perfect counterpoint to the bleakness of the instrumentation and has a richness to it that strengthens the whole rather than weaken it. The sneering growls used elsewhere have an authoritative comportment, the last time I heard the like being on a WINTERTHRONE album.
The songs themselves are perfectly capable of drizzling melancholy over the listener, “Towards The Altar” being a prime example, FEARBRINGER is also quite happy to use riffs that you wouldn't normally acquaint with Black Metal, in particular on “Conspiracy” and in that sense I am happy to make a GORGOROTH comparison and that isn't the only similarity. The concept behind the album is a recounting of events in Florence many centuries ago revolving around corruption in the church, there are occasional motifs that definitely add a medieval air.
As the tracks charge along, you are struck how it's the whole that counts, nothing holds precedence, apart at times from the vocals. The drums tend to maintain a frantic gallop rather than a constant blast, though there is plenty of rapid battery which never bores due to the fusing of the elements within the production. The guitar is used expressively for the genre, setting the moment often with an arch echo. Trebley throughout, they are at no point weak and any notion of tinniness can be dispensed with straight away. Again, when FEARBRINGER puts on a burst the guitars meld with the whole. The bass often plays its part, especially when the pace drops and there are few sections where you can't hear it rumbling along.
“Simula Et Dissimula” is an album that leaves it's mark, FEARBRINGER needs to wear gloves if he doesn't want anyone to know where he's been, his fingerprint is distinctive whether it be the use of what sounds like timpani or the wash of ethereal guitar on “Immortality Through Black Metal.” The three bonus tracks, all recorded live with a full line-up are worthy of the album proper, losing none of the commanding atmosphere, though understandably less distinct.
This album is original and I'm sure it will be enduring, it falls within a style that I can't get enough of and so don't expect a poor score from me, he made me do it. (Online June 11, 2006)