As the years go by, it becomes increasingly difficult to describe "basic" albums that are released in the Metal genres. It almost feels like youíre just repeating yourself over and over again because thereís only so many ways you can say "this album is boring" and it sometimes becomes frustrating.
Here we have yet another Symphonic Black Metal album, following the same roads as DIMMU BORGIR and EMPEROR, playing something weíve all heard before and Iím getting pretty tired of it. I realized that Metal had reached its limit a long time ago and nothing more can be done with the genre, I now look for stand-out quality in my albums, if nothing jumps out at me then the album is no more than a nice listen for the time being. This is INSPELL and "Arcadian Tales", it is very plain and there is nothing impressive or unique about this album at all. It serves as nothing more than mere back-ground music.
The album is therefore very basic. Take everything youíve come to expect from Symphonic Black Metal and expect nothing else, that will sum up the sound of this album very nicely, there are no surprises. We have the usual keyboard melodies, cold riffs, blast-beat drumming and the same raspy vocals being done by every other Black Metal band in the universe. The album lacks anything to make it even remotely memorable. Thatís not to say the music isnít good, itís well-played and the band accomplishes its mission of sounding like their heroes. Itís just too boring and predictable. At times I could swear I was listening to EMPERORís "ATTWAD" as a lot of the melodies and riffs sound like they were lifted directly from that album without any alteration.
At times though, Iíll give them credit, they succeed in creating very catchy riffs and establish a nice atmosphere ("Necromantic Idolatry" is a good example) however the constant EMPEROR masturbation makes it hard to appreciate this album for what it is. I believe that if INSPELL just takes the time to come up with their own identity and abandon the road of their idols, theyíd have the potential to release an album thatís actually worth someoneís time.
The lyrics are also a total miss for me. Once again we get the usual "Dungeons and Dragons" concept that I despise with every fibre of my being. Every song is based on some fairy-tale and I find that really rapes the Black Metal spirit. Although to be fair itís not as cheesy as their previous album but it still remains a bastardized form of the sub-genre. The production is also very standard, itís nothing to fawn over but it gets the job done. All the instruments sound sharp yet it still retains the Black Metal "feel" yet somehow I can't shake the feeling this it's watered down. The band clearly aims for a symphonic feel to the album yet the production doesn't have the balls to support that side of the music. As a result, it doesn't sound as powerful as it should.
The bottom line is that you donít need this album, youíve heard it before. Although it has some solid EMPEROR worship and it features solid song-writing, itís not worth searching for and definitely not worth spending any cash on. Itís plagued with predictability and does not stand out in any area. The only way I can justify purchase of this release is if youíre a massive Symphonic Black Metal enthusiast and you need to have everything in your collection. If that's not the case, you'll be able to live without it.
(Online February 25, 2007)