Lux Incerta – Dark Odyssey Review

Another review, another band with a ten-year gap between albums. When I was a young whipper-snapper, the gap was ten months! C’mon bands, get prolific again. Okay, anyhow, French dark metal act Lux Incerta produced a promising debut, now-ironically entitled A Decade of Dusk, back in 2012. If I were reviewing back in those days, it would have received one of those “there are a number of issues but this is a promising debut and I look forward to seeing where they go from here” summaries. Strong in many areas, clearly influenced by bands such as My Dying Bride and Katatonia, but still a ways to go in maturing and honing their sound, especially when it came to vocals. Well, it’s been a decade now, and I don’t know how much of it was spent in dusk, but hopefully a lot of it was spent practicing and writing. Let’s find out.

Dark Odyssey is a gorgeous-sounding album. The songs are all carefully crafted and wonderfully arranged. The prolonged intro and build-up in “Far Beyond the Black Skies” sounds like a souped-up score from the opening credits of a fantasy television series. The first four tracks are all stellar – even the narration that pops up occasionally, something I most definitely do NOT favor. Yet on Dark Odyssey Lux Incerta make it work. Maybe it’s the French accents, I don’t know. Regardless, the main weakness on A Decade of Dusk has disappeared; the vocals are excellent here. Benjamin Belot has honed his skills quite a bit in the past decade, as his cleans are now bang-on for the dark/gothic rock style, and his harsh vocals add a great touch throughout.

Vocals have improved, but the key selling point here is still the craftsmanship in most of the songs. Despite track lengths ranging from seven to fifteen minutes (aside from the exquisite interlude “Shervine”), there’s nary a second that isn’t compelling. Tension and mood dominate each track, pulling us into exactly what the band aims for: a journey into our personal depths. These are heavy, dense, moody songs that demand and hold our attention. And while guitar solos are sparse it must be noted that when they do surface they are bittersweet. Michel Hejazy passed away during the recording of Dark Odyssey, but the band was able to include some of his pre-production tracks here. It’s a nice touch.

Dark Odyssey’s fault is an odd one. The seven songs clock in at just under an hour, but there isn’t a lot of chaff to separate out of each track. The album just seems to run out of steam. I attribute this feeling to the anticlimactic finale “The Ritual,” which would seem to be more at home in the middle of an album than petering out at the end. It’s a plodding, formidable number, but it simply doesn’t work as a finale. Shortened and used as a prelude to another great song, sure, but on its own it’s too much of a downer. Penultimate track “Fallen” would have better served that purpose – or better yet, one more killer song.

Lux Incerta have improved in every facet possible here on Dark Odyssey. The songwriting, musicianship, production, and especially vocals are all a big step forward. If the album didn’t run out of steam over the back half, and especially “The Ritual,” I would have broken the Score Safety Counter again. As it stands, these guys are on the cusp of greatness – one song away, perhaps – and again, I’ll be keeping a close eye on their next album. I have a feeling it could be something amazing – but please, let’s not wait ten more years.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps MP3
Label: Klonosphere
Websites: | |
Release Worldwide: April 8, 2022

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