Blaze of Sorrow hail from Italy and ‘Absentia’ is this Black Metal group’s sixth full length album. Formed back in 2007 they’ve been pretty steady in their releases and quality of said releases. Blending black metal with folk and some prog elements, listeners will hear traces of Saor to Wayfarer to Fall of Rauros. One gets that icy, winter Black Metal harshness with the riffs but also tons of melodic guitar lines and plenty of catchy rock riffs mixed with the quiet acoustic moments, so Blaze of Sorrow take things up a notch compared to your average ‘harsh riffs, soft interlude, harsh riffs again’ formula that a lot of folk Black Metal groups put out. The opening ‘Settimo Requiem’ is a slow start with the Gregorian chants and horns before leading in with the Satyricon inspired riffs that will remind listeners of the track ‘Mother North’. Very icy yet clear at the same time with that Norwegian Black Metal feel to it. Vocals have that rough rasp that is just right for Black Metal- not too high pitched and still discernible, despite the lyrics all being in Italian. The drumming doesn’t really pick up until halfway through the track, but a lot of the prog rock elements can be heard as they carry the melodies through the riffs, especially near the end. The folkish elements don’t really come out until later in the album though.
‘Furia’ is a little more along the lines of straightforward Black Metal. Some Prog Rock melodies here and there but this is pretty much harsher Black Metal all the way through. The melodies here can be a little repetitive but the sound is still clean and crisp without too much ‘kvlt’ distortion. ‘Sonno déterno’ bring back some of the softer elements and mixes things up with more progressive rock sounds in the guitar riffs. Tons of melody here, very upbeat and not as sorrowful as some of the other tracks. The typical tremolo picking pattern is gone with the harsh vocals being pretty much the only Black Metal reminder. ‘Notturna’ changes things up again with more rock driven riffs, again bringing up the very upbeat vibe to the music before leading into the softer, more contemplative acoustic bits and then delving into harsher, more black metal territory backed by deep choirs. This track is probably the highlight of the album as it showcases all the aspects of Blaze of Sorrow’s musical options and it stands aside from the rest of the album as a great Viking/Prog/Folk/Black Metal piece that hasn’t really been heard yet. ‘Hybris’ brings back more of that Satyricon ‘Nemesis Divina’ sound to it with the faster riffs and some rock driven moments, but it is a bit of a faster track compared to the other ones. A little repetitive in the riffs, it doesn’t quite hold the interesting aspects that the previous one did.
‘Cupio Dissolvi’ leans back more towards the mid paced black metal mixed with prog rock elements. It is a little more melancholic and a bit more like the typical Folk Black Metal heard from Fall of Rauros with its darker edges, which is something that Blaze of Sorrow has been lacking in a lot of the music so far. While Black Metal is energetic and not quite as depressive, there is certain level of depression that is expected from Folk Black Metal, and with the Progressive Rock elements the music just seems far too upbeat at times to really nail it. Here Blaze get it right with the right level of ‘sad meets happy’, like a balanced Ghost Bath track. For those looking for something peaceful and a totally different side of the group, the closing ‘Morte di un Immortale’ is completely devoid of black metal, featuring acoustic guitar all the way through in the more straightforward Folk Metal style with icy winds in the background to boot and sounds a bit more like a quick Panopticon track. A bit more introspective and really fleshing out those soft moments heard on the other tracks, it is a nice way to close out the album. Overall, ‘Absentia’ does not disappoint one bit and stays in line with the usual expectations fans want from Blaze of Sorrow. It is a little shorter in track length than the previous album, but lines up on the same page as what they put out back in 2015 with ‘Eremita del Fuoco’. Those are looking for Folk Black Metal that is energetic but not quite too depressive or too traditional will find ‘Absentia’ a fun listen that is thoughtful and varied.