Band: Midnight Odyssey
Album: Biolume Part 3 – A Fullmoon Madness
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Release date: 24 November 2023
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording
Wow… there is a lot to unpack here. Undoubtedly masterfully crafted and complex to the point of becoming overwhelming, the third opus of Midnight Odyssey’s Biolume series is a remarkable piece of Cosmic Black Metal that is hardly approached by any other band in the realms of this subgenre. The band is known for their habit of releasing some seriously lengthy records, fact that may push people away from even attempting to listen to their music. However, the quality of the material that is to be found may surpass even the highest standards when it comes to this particular style of black metal.
A fascinating aspect of Biolume Part 3 is the amount of layers that are found within the music. Starting with the classic guitar bass and drums, to which there are added multiple layers of varied synth and a wide array of vocal styles. Each song also possesses a specific type of atmosphere that stands out while also having its place in the album as a whole. This is mostly due to the length and unconventional structure of the songs themselves, which makes them feel like chapters in a story, almost, which I assume was actually the point. The instrumentals and vocal performance certainly follow this storytelling pattern, increasing and decreasing in intensity in a very controlled, well thought way.
The aspect that I believe should be first analyzed when approaching this record is the use of synth throughout the record. Compared to the way it is used in other records, it is obvious why it is so important. Traditionally, black metal uses synth as a decorative element, to highlight certain passages. However, in the case of Biolume Part 3, the synth forms the base of the album, the element on which everything else is built on. Like I mentioned previously, there isn’t one “singular” layer of synth, rather, three of them, each one with its own unique purpose. The first layer is formed out of simple, regulated synth parts that remain similar throughout the course of the record. The main purpose of this layer is to connect the songs to each other and form the basic atmosphere of the record. The second layer, however, is where things begin to become interesting. This layer is mainly formed out of orchestral passages that involve instruments like the piano, the violin and the organ. These are characterized by carefully composed melodies that are undoubtedly complex and written in an almost classical fashion. This layer is unique for each song, this being the place when the songs begin to shine in their own right and to vary a lot from their counterparts. This is also the layer responsible for carrying most of the melody of the album. The third and final layer is a decorative one, that uses both classic and orchestral synth, however, not as continuously present as the other two. It is mostly used to highlight certain song segments.
Moving forward in the discussion, the guitars, bass and drums show up. Like in the case of the other musical parts, there is a lot of variety to be found in the use of these instruments, although they operate in more traditional black metal patterns. The drums alternate between a wide range of tempos and styles, including traditional black metal blast beats, doomy segments and mid paced rhythms. The guitars are mostly tremolo based, although there are some epic leads and solos to be found, along with more atmospheric, slower riffs. The bass is much less varied, serving mostly as a support for the guitar, remaining constant throughout the record. The effort put into the writing process for these instruments is just as extensive and meticulous as the one for the synth and orchestrals, if not even more at times. This is the part that gives the album its power and its most touching qualities in terms of the feelings that are transmitted through the music.
I would also like to mention the important role of the production in influencing the sound of this album, and the element of interest it brings with it. It is equally parts clean and raw, and it makes me believe that the instruments were recorded in entirely different ways. The drums are quite raw and faded into the mix, as well as the first guitar layer. The vocals also carry a tinge of reverb. On the other hand, the lead guitar and the orchestrals are as clean as it gets. This brings a nice contrast to the composition, helping highlight different elements in different ways.
Lastly, I’m going to tackle on the vocal performance. This is probably the most emotive part of the record, and the one that gets noticed the first, and not without reason. It is, to put it simply, marvelous. The balance between harsh and clean vocals is blissful, bringing a sense of duality and a noticeable contrast which works perfect with the instrumentals. The clean vocals especially are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine. They are simply soul touching. The harsh vocals are no joke themselves, being just as impressive as the clean ones, but slightly more melancholic and meditative, in a sense. There is truly nothing to complain about when it comes to vocals.
Like mentioned previously, a slight downside of the album is its length which comes to an impressive 2 hours and 5 minutes, which may seem like a stretch at best and a stupid idea at worst. Not all people have the patience to sit through a two hour album, especially those who aren’t familiar with the band and their habit of writing really long records. However, I believe the quality of the songs makes up for it. It took me a full day to get through it all, but I didn’t regret one second of it. I appreciate the lack of filler material on the album, which makes the long duration so worth it. Some of my personal favorite songs would be the crushing As one we Grow, As One We Fall, the breathtaking epic Witching Eyes, The Long Forgotten Dead, and In The Lunar Maelstrom.
To wrap everything up, Biolume Part 3 –A Fullmoon Madness is more than an album, is a journey through Cosmos and the soul itself. Warmly recommend it to all black metal fans, even to those who don’t think they have the patience to sit through it. 9.5/10 Ioana
9.5/10 Epic Storm
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