Origin: Japan South Korea
Genre: Melodic Black Metal Symphonic Black Metal
Label: Evoken de Valhall Production
Year: 2014

Japanese elegiac black metallers Ethereal Sin and South Korean symphonic black metallers Dark Mirror ov Tragedy decided to join forces and release the split album “Arcane of Ancient Asia“, a real masterpiece of melodic symphonic black metal, a well-hidden treasure from Far East Asia. The album was released on October 31st, 2014 via Evoken de Valhall Production, a Japanese label founded by Ethereal Sin’s leader, Yama.      

The first 7 tracks of the album, lasting for almost 33 minutes, belong to Ethereal Sin. Formed back in 1997 by Yama, the band managed to release its debut full-length “The Abyss will Also Gaze into Thee” in 2009, after several demos and an EP. In 2013 the band re-recorded its debut and also released its second album “Millendium“, displaying a huge improvement in everything! Ethereal Sin call their music elegiac black metal, due to the dark melancholic nature of their sound. They play melodic black metal with epic, symphonic and even some folk elements. I think there are some important changes in their music, compared to the previous album. “Millendium” has a clearly more epic atmosphere and the female vocals were of a more operatic approach. There is a new female singer in this album, Sakuya Shaitan, who adds a different color to their music. Her vocals is a weird mixture of operatic soprano and traditional “trembling” Japanese singing, giving an unusual folk twist in their sound. This combination isn’t too easy at all and sometimes it sounds too bizarre or disharmonic! This type of vocals clearly needs more work and improvement, but it is also so special and interesting! I really hope the band will insist on them in the future. Furthermore, one extra difficulty is that the band has to combine these vocals with a wide variety of extreme black metal screams and clean male vocals. While Ethereal Sin’s sound is close to symphonic black metal, it’s their technical guitars that have the leading role in their orchestrations, leaving an almost enriching and accompanying role to the synths. There is quite a variety in their songs, moving from epic extreme metal, to dark melancholic symphonic metal, with Gothic and folk touches. The tempo and “extremeness” of the songs constantly change in their complex compositions, without the typical structure of bridge, refrain etc, so their music demands a more careful listening from the listener.

The second parts of the split, which belongs to Dark Mirror ov Tragedy, includes 5 songs with a total duration of 26 minutes. This South Korean band has impressed me since its first steps. Formed in 2003, they released their promising self-titled debut album in 2005, followed by two masterpieces of symphonic black metal, “The Pregnant of Despair” in 2009 and “The Lunatic Chapters of Heavenly Creatures” in 2014. Their side in this split includes a short symphonic cinematic intro, 3 main songs and a wonderful instrumental outro, which is a brilliant piano based (neo)classical piece (my congrats to the composer Zyim, the band’s synth player)! The 3 metal tracks move in the characteristic style of the band: bombastic, grandiose virtuosic, symphonic melodic black metal. Wonderful compositions, based on melancholic majestic minor key melodies that simply enchant me. Symphonic keys, melodic guitars and screaming vocals are accompanied by violin, cello and piano, in their ultra-complex compositions. I’d also like to add that their violin has a unique sound that gives an eastern folk color in their music. I believe that this EP contains 4 of their best songs ever. It’s only 26 minutes long, but it includes so many ideas and music “information” that could fill an entire discography for others!!!! All these violin and piano solos in perfect harmony with their symphonic black metal structures are out-of-this world. Someone could accuse the band for technique “show-off”, but when you are THAT good, you can do whatever want and simply finish the listener off! A nonnegotiable “10″ by me for Dark Mirror ov Tragedy’s side!

Arcane of Ancient Asia” is a must-listen (and in my opinion a must-buy) album for lovers of melodic symphonic black metal. Two excellent bands are summoned in this split and offer us a really professional and quality work! It is released via Evoken de Valhall Production in a 6-panel deluxe digipak edition with 8-page booklet, including all the lyrics (most of them are in English, except for some verses in Japanese by Ethereal Sin). Artwork and design is by both bands’ members. I don’t know how easy it is to get this album, or both band’s previous amazing works, so the best way is to visit their official pages below for more info and sound samples.


Rating:  (9,5/10)

Ethereal Sin official page
Ethereal Sin @ Facebook
Ethereal Sin @ Twitter
Dark Mirror ov Tragedy official page
Dark Mirror ov Tragedy @ Facebook
Dark Mirror ov Tragedy @ Twitter


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