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Domus Mundi

Hollenthon - Domus Mundi ©1999 Napalm Records
1. Enrapture - Hinc Illae Lacrimae
2. Homage - Magni Nominis Umbra
3. Vestige - Non Omnis Moriar
4. Lure - Pallida Mors
5. Interlude - Ultima Ratio Regum
6. Reprisal - Malis Avibus
7. Premonition - Lex Talionis
8. Eclipse - Vita Nova

Like a thunderbolt from the very peak of Mount Olympus, ex-Pungent Stench leader Martin Shirenc surprised and wowed fans with this 1999 release, Domus Mundi. The album in question is, for those who have heard Pungent Stench, a radical departure from the groovy, sludgy death metal that permeated throughout that band's albums. Without the encumberance of a band behind him (save for maybe some generous help from Summoning's Mike "Silenius" Groegor on drums and Martin's wife, Elena, on vocals and lyrical pennery), Martin Shirenc was able to fulfill his penchant for exotic, melodic, world-conscious, blackened death metal, and boy, what a strange and wonderful journey it is.

Permeating throughout Domus Mundi are sampled string arrangements from all of Martin's favorite classical songs, samples from various tribal rituals, subtle synths, and Gregorian chants. While purists may have already written off this review with a careless aside, it must be mentioned that the classical arrangements and samples included within hold a certain timelessness, regardless of whether or not Martin simply fashioned his songs around them or just added them in after the preliminary structures were already completed. With the solitary sound of the wind (as if blowing over a bloodied battlefield after a long, fierce battle) opening "Enrapture - Hinc Illae Lacrimae," the song then explodes into an epic, classical-driven litany of vivid proportions. "Homage - Magni Nominis Umbra" has a bouncy, middle-eastern feel to it, whereas "Vestige - Non Omnis Moriar" could easily be a power metal song if you cut out Shirenc's gutteral rasp and avant garde tendencies. "Lure - Pallida Mors" utilizes majestic songwriting and gregorian chants to a full effect, while ""Reprisal - Malis Avibus" is downright abysmal.

Fortunately enough, Shirenc does not allow his songs to become lost within a marsh of avant garde excess. Rather, he creates catchy hooks in the form of snappy guitar playing to move each song along to the eventual - and appropriate - conclusion in "Eclipse - Vita Nova." Special commendations must go out to Elena Shirenc for writing some unique, ambiguous, yet compelling lyrics. In conclusion, Domus Mundi comes highly recommended and is one of the best releases to come out in 1999.

Review by Alec A. Head

Review date: 05/2001

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