Stagnation is a problem. In this wondrous day and age where music can be shared across the globe at a mere few clicks, you’d think that “too much of the same” in metal would be a laughable concept. Instead, it’s an actual problem. An uncountable number of fledgling bands are being influenced by the same big acts and creating essentially the same sound over and over again. There is nothing more exciting in this musical sphere than a band that breaks the cycle of stagnation, who smashes through stereotypes and clichés both to rise above the rest and revitalize their sad, tired genre. Symphonic metal, I give you Embrace of Disharmony and their sophomore effort: De Rervm Natvra.
Actually, calling Embrace of Disharmony a symphonic metal band isn’t entirely accurate. This Italian act plays avant-garde orchestral metal, and their sound is so immense as to be a bit difficult to describe. You’ve got the over-the-top grandeur of Nightwish and Epica, touches of Ayreon, Native Construct, and Ne Obliviscaris on the edges, the absolute eclecticism of the Diablo Swing Orchestra, and about a thousand other subtle influences that mesh together into cohesive glory. It’s the eclecticism I’d like to highlight, however, as each song on De Rervm Natvra completely eschews traditional symphonic metal structures. Take the singing. Gloria Zanotti and Matteo Salvarezza both sing, narrate, and growl as songs demand. Often, they sing together, but whether they’re singing the same lines in harmony, the same lines with different rhythms, or two completely different lines at once shifts multiple times per song. They work more like twin guitars than harmonized leads, and they sound incredible together. Occasionally, their different paces or lyrics will bring them together for but a single word, but the effect is utterly mesmerizing.
Oh, but there’s so much more to this glorious eclecticism that singing. Songs across the album leap from one idea to the next, with many tracks being unrecognizable in their interludes from their primary themes and introductory ideas. The amazing thing about it is that it works. It really, really works. “De Primordiis Rervm” showcases the band at its wildest, incorporating blast beats, electronica, shrieked lyrics, elegant symphonic leads, a mesmerizing and progressive guitar solo, and soaring twin vocal leads. And none of this insane variety ever feels forced or unnatural. On the contrary, the incredible passion these musicians have for their craft is what shines through more than anything else. I could try naming off a favorite song from the album, but it would be a solid seven-way tie.1 I likely would highlight “De Mortalitate Animae,” however; whether in the quiet crooning that opens the song, the incredible guitar solo towards the end, or the manic passion born when the rising orchestral interlude meets icy, black-metal-style rasps at the song’s climax, the result is outstanding and powerful.
De Rervm Natvra is an emotional, epic, fun, and fascinating foray into symphonic metal, and everything about this album supports those qualities. The production manages to make room for every element of the band’s sound, and balances each element with grace. No single instrument—including the singing—is ever truly overpowering. Even the lyrics2 are exhaustively researched and carefully crafted.3 Everything about this album comes together in exactly the right way; it’s a clear result of a dedication and passion that eclipses its stagnated competition in a big way.
So De Rervm Natvra is symphonic metal in the same way that Æther Realm is melodeath or Wilderun is folk metal. They go above and beyond their genre conventions to create something that sounds new and incredible. Honestly, I thought this genre had peaked. Embrace of Disharmony have proved me utterly and completely wrong. I have never been so happy to have been so thoroughly disproved in my life.
- It’s an eight-song album, but the intro is only a couple of minutes long, alas. ↩
- Kindly provided by the band itself. ↩
- “De Rerum Natura” (“On The Nature of Things”) is a 2,000-year-old and multi-volume Roman poem that summarizes Epicurean philosophy, including atomism, mortality, spirituality, and love. ↩