Poema Arcanvs – Stardust Solitude Review

For reasons unknown, Chile is a hot bed for doom metal. When I saw Poema Arcanvs hailed from Chile, played a brand of gothic doom death, and was signed to top-notch label Transcending Obscurity, I had to seize the day and the promo. Sadly, Father Time got the better of me and I missed getting a review done before Poema’s 6th album, Stardust Solitude hit the streets, and for that I feel eternal shame. Better late than never though, right? Their first release since 2012, Stardust Solitude is steeped in the Peaceville era of doom death, but there’s more going on than just influence worship. At times the band wander into adjacent and not so adjacent genres in their effort to mellow your harsh. Sometimes these musical side quests work in their favor, sometimes less so. This makes for an interesting platter with some high notes and accompanying rough spots. It also goes to show the Highway of Doom is unsafe no matter how slowly you take the corners.

Opting to open with a 9-plus minute whopper of a title track, Poema isn’t ashamed to show off their doom bona fides. What they deliver is like a hodge-podge of pre-70s obsessed Opeth, Novembers Doom and Katatonia – a sullen, depressive dose of doom death with varying moods and levels of aggression. Claudio Carrasco’s death roars are effective and when he shifts to clean singing his delivery is like Fvneral Fvkk’s Cantor Cinaedicus mixed with whatever nameless ghoul sings for Deathwhite. The song is overly long-winded but by shifting tempos and weaving in vaguely blackened elements, the band manages to craft an effective mood piece with some strong hooks. Better still is followup “Orphans” where a Tool vibe snakes under the door to join a strong Katatonia influence, resulting in a compelling flavor profile. Sometimes this blend of styles reminds me of Another Messiah’s criminally underappreciated Dark Dreams, My Child, and it really suits the band’s strengths. “Haven” continues in the same vein with similarly solid results and some moments that really stick with you. The highlight is “The Lighthouse Keeper” where they strike a near ideal blend of post-metal, doom and goth rock like The Cure. This song really gets under my skin and I keep going back to its dark, melancholic world.

As interesting as the first half of Stardust Solitude is, the band loses the narrative on the back half. The things that worked best are abandoned in favor of more straight-forward doom like on “Pilgrim” and something approaching Visigoth style trve metal on “Kingdom of Ruins.” None of the songs on the second half really click with me, though there are good moments scattered about. 9-plus minute closer “Brave” has a My Dying Bride vibe I appreciate, but I can’t seem to stay engaged for the entire song no matter how hard I try. At 56:20, Stardust is long and definitely feels it. Even the good stuff on the first half is often stretched out too far, and I find my attention wandering before the album’s final third even begins.

The band possesses obvious ability, and guitarist Igor Leiva conjures some sweet doom riffs along the way. He also shows he’s no slouch at goth rock leads and uncorks some interesting ideas from several other genres as well. Most of the songs feature moments of inspired playing and the man is good at setting mournful moods. Claudio Carrasco is an able front man with a powerful death croak. At first I didn’t love his clean singing but it grew on me as the album progressed, and with repeat spins he won me over. The big problem is the inconsistent material. The first half is convincing and shows a lot of potential and the back half coasts along in a much less engaging way.

This is one of those “tale of two halves” albums. I really enjoy the first, but the second is a significant letdown. I’m impressed enough with Poema Arcanvs that I’m investigating their past works, but I can’t recommend Stardust Solitude in its entirety. I surely can recommend the first half though.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Websites: poemaarcanvs.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/poemaarcanvs
Releases Worldwide: August 28th, 2020

« »