Domus Mundi

The last thing you would expect from Martin Schirenc (of the newly reformed Pungent Stench) is a symphonic metal album, but that's exactly what he did with Hollenthon. Now, most of you are well aware of just how much crap is being released under the moniker of symphonic metal nowadays. This, however, is not it. In fact, "Domus Mundi" is nothing less than excellent for what it does. Very lush and clear sound, with varied vocal work (to the extent of including Gregorian chants) and loads of skillfully combined atmo-, sympho-, neo-classical and folk/ethnic elements, including (samples of?) string arrangements and Celtic folk instrumentation. At the same time Martin does not forget about the metal part of the equation, thus preventing his music from being bogged down in the experimental overindulgence, as he comes up with first-rate riffs and melodic parts, which borrow from black, death and even power metal and successfully balance all the symphonic facets. And while it is true that this album lacks the sort of dark, sinister or mournful feel that the better doom and black metal bands are able to project, the quality of this work still cannot be denied. The man certainly knew what he wanted to do with this project and exactly how he wanted it done, and he obviously possessed the ability to pull it all off. He handled all instrumentation with the exception of drums and percussion, for which Mike "Silenius" Groeger of Summoning fame was recruited. One could rave for a long time about this album either by delving into its cross pollination of so many different elements, or by going through each song individually, but I am not going to do that (too lazy). Basically, the deal with Hollenthon comes down to this: if you want an original sympho-metal album that you won't be ashamed of owning, look no further than Hollenthon and, for that matter, the excellent Austrian scene (Golden Dawn, Raventhrone etc.) in general.

2002 boris