Seance Of – The Colour of Magick Review

On more than a couple of occasions, I’ve mused on decisions made by artists that one might label … pretentious. My musings have not, of course, led to anything useful but why should that stop me? Perth, Australia’s curiously-named, one-man project Seance Of is ready to unleash The Colour of Magick. The last – chronologically speaking – of three records written by mainman AR (also of Grave Worship), this is the project’s debut, with the other two to follow at some unspecified future time. Magnanimously, Seance Of has also decided not to name any of the tracks on this record, instead encouraging “listeners to create their own titles for each of these eight tracks: indeed, this unorthodox freedom is his intent.” Having initially written this off as a pretentious gimmick, it took the ever-wise1 GardensTale to point out that I was missing a trick here.

Knowing this was a one-man black metal project, I expected Seance Of to deliver either raw, murky second wave fury or atmoblack. As “Transylvanian Hunger for Pickles” opens the album, however, it becomes clear that The Colour of Magick is a different beast. Like the excellent Miasmata, which I reviewed earlier this year, Seance Of incorporates elements of heavy metal and proggy flourishes into the tumult, sometimes recalling Eremita-era Ihsahn. On vocals, AR favors a rasping growl, which is solid enough but wholly unremarkable. Occasionally, on the likes of “Blood is the Twist of Lemon in the Drink Called Valhalla,”2 a track dominated to a large extent but its furious drumming, he overlays a hoarse chant alongside the rasps, giving an echoing dynamic that almost entirely fails to add anything to the mix. It’s obviously hard to pick a title track on an album where the tracks have no titles but, if I were put on the spot, I think I’d point to “Where the Wild Things Reproduce Animalistically,”3 which has a sense of almost symphonic grandeur, a la Midian-era Cradle of Filth, to its relentless slew of leads and tremolos that places it a little above the rest of the record.

Although the combination of echoing rasps, rising tremolos and blasts all combine to ensure this black metal outing has its harsher, rawer moments – see “Excuse me Sir, is this your Tooth?”4The Colour of Magick feels curiously light. It’s a feeling that I cannot quite put my finger on but somehow, as each track gathers pace and seeks to generate menace, it instead just drifts along in mysteriously un-threatening and un-evil manner, “My Second Wife left me for Cthulu and I Honestly don’t Blame Her”5 being a prime example. It is, I think, down to the incessant leads that pervade Seance Of’s style. Now, that could be an opportunity, of course, to allow the more progressive flourishes to … well, flourish. And yet, these aspects are also kept on a leash, ever present but ever restrained.Across The Colour of Magick, restrained synths combine with the dual guitars and meaty bass lines, to give the record a rich, vibrant sound, which would lend itself well to a textured progressive record, especially with the clean production and the mastering by Moonsorrow’s Henri Sorvali. AR’s apparent desire, however, to simultaneously deliver a furious black metal record and something altogether more refined, combines to severely limit Seance Of. Rather than combining to elevate the whole, the failure to separate these two aspects of the songwriting actually contrives to flatten out the whole into a record that lacks discernible changes of mood or identifiable progression. Despite being a nice, tight 40 minutes, however, The Colour of Magick feels so much longer.

There’s no doubt that Seance Of is a project with promise. AR can handle all his instruments well and his vocals are decent (albeit, I could do without the more effects-laden and lyrically cringey moments of closer, “I’m starting to Feel Uncomfortable about the Way that Stuffed Rhino in the Corner of the Room is Looking at Me”) but the songwriting comes up short. According to the blurb supplied with this release, all three Seance Of records – The Colour of Magick and its as-yet unreleased siblings – were written in 2020. Why this was the first released, I don’t know but I wonder whether that level of output means that, rather than getting his best work, we’re onto AR’s third-best ideas. When I’m actually listening to The Colour of Magick, it’s decent enough but, after at least ten spins over the course of this week, not a single moment sticks with me.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Signal Rex
Releases Worldwide: June 21st, 2021

Show 5 footnotes

  1. I fear this will be thrown back in my face for years to come.
  2. Also known as Track 3; title credit to the Steel boss ape.
  3. Track 4 and TheKenWord
  4. Track 6.
  5. Track 7 and GardensTale.
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