A press release claiming that they are the founders of Avante Garde Metal is really a little bit much as there seems to be very little evidence of any recognition at all for Tenebris aside from their own Myspace site. Avante Garde is perhaps a rather exaggerated title as well. Nevertheless, their latest release “Catafalque – Comet” encompasses the culmination of their work so far in a sort of Best Of album. Starting with their apparently Classic 1997 effort “Catafalque,” moving through “Comet” and to the so called Enigmatic “The Ooze”.
Scepticism aside however, this is actually a pretty solid effort. Not the strongest start but it gives you a good idea of where the band stands in terms of sound. Keys are very prominent giving the overall sound a more old school touch. This is also true in the case of the guitars which, for once, are progressive and innovative without just selling out to the usual clichés that surround “Prog” and it is pulled off convincingly. There are definitely some CYNIC, SADIST and the progressive era DEATH sounds flying around here, but with very much their own sound. Bass is subtle, following along with the guitars and keys and to that extent is very dextrous; the odd fretless flourish is also to be heard in some parts. As the album progresses though, the bass is featured more with some great jazz riffs. Vocals are reminiscent of Jason Mendonca of AKERCOCKE when clean, dirty vocals are more pirate like similar to Simon Hestnaes (Vortex) of ARCTURUS. Drumming is really competent but has a nice casual feel that creates an altogether more human sound.
The first part of the album, 1997’s “Catafalque”, is a bit of a meagre effort, but after listening to the rest of the album you can enjoy it more from seeing where they’re going with it. Besides, it is a solid start. There are a few brilliant, yet subtle, nuances and idiosyncrasies that are really enjoyable. The second part, 2001’s “Comet”, sees more great little progressive flourishes that are really interesting and just cool. Overall this part is more melodious, jazzy and easier going. However, you get the feeling that playing and singing in some key parts are apathetic and unprofessional sounding, frankly quite annoying. Part 3, “Leaving Of Distortion Soul,” originally from the promo “The Ooze” from 1999, has an altogether different feel, with different production sounds on the first track giving a rather boring feel. Yet “Wanderer” sees a return to the previous style.
I personally find it a bit of an effort to listen to this album, there are moments I like though and from “Comet” there are parts I can get into more, but these parts are rather lost in the end result, which is perhaps a bit of a mess. Overall I doubt I’d be tempted to listen to it again.
Overall this is an average to good album with references to old school Technical Progressive Death Metal. Good nostalgia for those who are really into that kind of thing but it doesn’t have the strength that the successful bands of that genre did.
(Online June 16, 2007)