I had put LACRIMAE's album "Course To Arsoning" into my player with quite some hopes as I know that Mexico has produced a quite nice number of quality acts already, so why should this outfit be an exception?
Symphonic Black Metal it is, a pretty popular style among musicians in Central and South America and more often than not it is a rather generic result, with the typical song structures, use of keyboards, harsh vocals, atmospheric passages and blastbeats…you all know the formula out of the "Guidebook to Melodic Black Metal", chapters 3-8. So how do LACRIMAE fare in this department? A good and valid question and if I take their Bolivian counterparts LILITH into account, which I had just reviewed earlier today, they do not fare as good, as sorry I am to have to say this.
What is responsible for this? Well, one major point is the higher voice of singer Nix, which, to be honest, annoys the crap out of me! When that voice sets in, I almost feel inclined to rip the headphones off my sensitive ears, while his "regular" growls are ok and also fit the music. The music itself also is, despite all tries for variety in which they partly also succeed, is just more regular than, to stay in the example, LILITH, especially when the keyboards take over and grow a bit too dominant in the mix, drowning out parts of the other instruments.
Now all of this sounds very negative so far, but it overall is by no means a bad CD. The guitar work is very good, if at times too low in the mix, the successes in bringing in variety are interesting and also different and some of the melodies and arrangements are even excellent. "Uncanny Pleasures" or at least the second half of "Uncommon Sense Of Divinity" should be sufficient as examples to make my point here, while "Cosmo Chaos Supremacy" could be viewed as counterexample, especially in the vocal section… But then "Death Travels On Me" surprises with spherical keyboards, a doomy rhythm and…really good clear vocals! It then turns into a still good, at times almost spacy song with mostly growls and again some of those awful shriek/shouts, which still do not manage to take away too much from the class of this song, which is pretty unusual for LACRIMAE.
So how is the balance between positive and negative aspects? A tricky challenge to come to a decision, in the end I guess they more or less keep "Course To Arsoning" in some sort of fragile equilibrium that threatens to tilt either way, depending on which song you are listening to. If they manage to continue to build on the mentioned tracks with a lot of potential (and work on those vocals), then the next album could be a great one for LACRIMAE, of not, well, they will still remain kind of stuck in the middle. I know that it is next to impossible with a CD like this, but if there is a chance that you can check these songs out before buying, I'd recommend that you do so, just that you don't have a not all that positive surprise when you actually pop it into the player at home… (Online June 30, 2003)