Genre/Influences: Neo-classic, gothic, cinematographic.
Format: Digital, CD, Vinyl, Cassette.
Background/Info: Anna-Varney Cantodea set up Sopor Aeternus in 1989. The project rapidly became a phenomenon and the growing recognition never stopped. Thirty one years later Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble Of Shadows unleash their newest work featuring eleven songs. Anna-Varney Cantodea remains the heart & soul of the project while the Ensemble Of Shadows features seven musicians (playing drums, violin, cello, trumpet, bass, banjo and trombone). This new work comes one year after the surprising death-rock release “Death And Flamingos”.
Content: Sopor Aeternus moves back to its familiar neo-classic/gothic driven style, which remains characterized by the play of authentic instruments. The sound of the cello, violin or trombone for example reinforce the sad mood covering the songs. Anna-Varney Cantodea accentuates this sadness by adding delicate sound treatments and then bombastic arrangements. Some typical ingredients like the sound of a carrion are resonating in the background while the trumpet play injects this very particular solemn touch. The work is empowered by guitar sounds while carried by dark, heavenly melodies. On top of it all the charisma and emotive production of Anna-Varney’s vocals are achieving this work with an extra sensitive touch.
+ + + : I was touched by the title of this album, which also is the title of one of my favorite paintings by symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin. I don’t think this album refers to this painting although I imagine Anna-Varney Cantodea sitting in the boat featured on Böcklin’s canvas, which is slowly sailing towards a mysterious place… a place of eternal sleep! Well, this album makes me think of a painting or a book with its different chapters. The music reflects this unique, artistic sadness this musician has used to familiarize us. It also reflects the lyrical theme(s) about an impossible- or should I say inaccessible love. It’s not just sadness as the work deals with existential themes and Sopor Aeternus has been always a meticulous artisan to express it by music. And what I’ve always experienced in the work of Anna-Varney Cantodea is not only its authenticity, but also sincerity! No, Sopor Aeternus is not simply gothic music, it’s art! Some of the melody lines remind me of soundtracks written by another master, Ennio Morricone, while the global mood has something of classical works like the “Stabat Mater” from Pergolesi or the one from Vivaldi. The work resulted from a true passion for music and I guess perfectionism for any little detail. Sadness has been transformed into artistic beauty while darkness became grace! It’s hard to say which is my favorite Sopor Aeternus album, but right now I should say without hesitation “Island Of The Dead”… an obscure title for a sonic experience that still gets me in its grip.
– – – : I can’t really imagine any minus points about this work, but let’s say that some of the last songs aren’t my favorite ones while the opening cuts are just brilliant!
Conclusion: There albums we can simply be grateful to they exist and if they exist it’s thanks to the genius of their composer. I don’t believe in perfectionism, but if it has to be invented, Sopor Aeternus would be its sculptor.
Best songs: “Minotaur”, “Black Magic Spell”, “Poison”, “Saturn Rising”, “Burial Ground”, “Cold”.