Poema Arcanus – Transient Chronicles

Poema Arcanus‘ fifth record, Transient Chronicles, actually dates back to last year, but the Chilean band’s entry into the BadMoodMan roster made a re-release appropriate to prevent its distribution from remaining limited to the South American geographical area. Undoubtedly, the operation turns out to be opportune in light of the value of this work, which, while not reaching unreachable heights, confirms the Santiago combo as a truly interesting reality, particularly for the willingness shown in not wanting to fossilize on traditional death doom schemes. Yes, because, despite the label attached to Poema Arcanus is just that, Transient Chronicles possesses a strong component definable progressive dark, thanks to which ours manage to keep away from the shallows in which, inevitably, risk to get stranded the less talented epigones of My Dying Bride and the like. In this regard I would like to open a parenthesis: I happened to read a review, on a site that I will not cite and in any case not Italian, in which this record was defined as good but unfortunately too derivative and excessively influenced by Stainthorpe and co.; here the cases are two: to write such rubbish, whoever stated this has never listened to My Dying Bride or, much more likely, has not heard Transient Chronicles more than once with a minimum of attention. That the British masters have influenced anyone who approaches gothic death doom is an incontrovertible fact, but to make them the sole source of inspiration for anyone who falls into this stylistic sphere denotes, at the very least, a certain superficiality (and I go no further). Moreover, all this ends up damaging and mortifying the work of bands such as Poema Arcanus who try, meritoriously, to propose variations that can make the proposed sounds more peculiar; then it is not necessarily that this automatically produces exciting results, but it is necessary that the truth be re-established and that, above all, no baseless information be provided to the reader. Wanting at all costs to trace a parallel with some band or record of the past, today’s Poema Arcanus sounds like a doom version, thus darker and more cadenced, of Dark Suns’ Existence, a little gem dated 2005 that the German band, later on, has not been able to even come close to: having adored that record, I was quite happy to hear again on this occasion passages that were anything but predictable, supported by a progressive attitude and with a decidedly appropriate alternation between growl and clean vocals, capable of often opening up into fleeting glimpses of rare melodic beauty. But the Chilean quartet’s merit is precisely that of not lingering too long on one and the same riff or apt cue, always trying to make the songwriting a constantly evolving flow, an aspect that makes listening anything but easy and that, certainly, does not allow the record to be dismissed after one or two listens. A certain lack of fluidity, in the long run, is on the other hand the major flaw that emerges at the end of this abundant hour of excellent music, in which, moreover, there is no lack of truly original cues such as the epic dark folk episode entitled Inquilinos, sung entirely in Spanish, and tracks of great qualitative depth despite their complexity such as the opener Us, Those Half Dead, Fugitive and Our Little Blood; also remarkable are the oppressive and dark Stream Of Debrise and the single Omniscient Opponent, a hypothetical meeting point between Type 0 Negative and Moonspell and embellished by excellent guitar work. Also apt is the decision to include as a bonus track Errant Souls, the reissue of a fine track dating back to our band’s first musical steps (1995), when they were still called Garbage and played, of course, a far more canonical and traditional death doom. Transient Chronicles is a work of sure depth that allows Poema Arcanus to be rightly placed, along with the well-known Mar De Grises and Procession, among the spearheads of the Chilean scene, the authentic cradle of doom metal as far as South America is concerned. 

2013 – BadMoodMan Music