Midnight Odyssey – Firmament


By Jonathan Smith

Midnight Odyssey’s debut album for I, Voidhanger Records is an extremely impressive but extremely dense piece of work, sure to please those who are looking to embrace it. There’s little reason to doubt that its difficult and potentially-alienating nature isn’t intended to be part of its charm. A re-release of an earlier full-length demo, Firmament comes from Australian-based solo musician Dis Pater. The opening track, “From Forest To Firmament,” begins with the haunting, echoing plucks of a lone guitar before the musical world comes crashing in on itself. “Nocturnal Prey” continues the momentum with a surprisingly “cheerful” but demented tremolo riff that serves as the song’s guiding force overtop of a strong rhythm backbone. “Salvation Denied” shifts back and forth in its tempo and tone, but its central riff is almost trance-inducing. Certain tracks, such as “From Beyond the 8th Sphere,” are lengthy, moody instruments that provide a break from the gale. Pater’s banshee vocals are completely incomprehensible — they act more as an additional instrument more than anything else, adding another eerie layer to the lengthy songs. The heavy synth sections and slow, doom-like moments mean that the album works best as sublime atmosphere, best experienced while slightly distracted by something else so that the music can haunt the space around you. Firmament‘s sound places the album squarely within ambient black metal territory, more Drudkh than Darkthrone. As such it’s probably more likely to appeal to those looking for something like the former than the latter. Think Circle of Ghosts but with more thunderous kick. With a 60+ minute running time, Firmament is well-worth the time one puts into it and hopefully a sign of many wraith-filled apocalypses to come.

(I, Voidhanger Records)

Rating: 9.0

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.