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Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble Of Shadows - Mitternacht (2014) - Review

Band: Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble Of Shadows
Album title: Mitternacht - The Dark Night Of The Soul
Release date: 23 September 2014
Label: Apocalyptic Vision Records

01. Mitternacht
02. Beautiful
03. La Prima Vez
04. Bang-Bang
05. The Boy Has Built A Catacomb
06. Carnival Of Souls
07. Confessional
08. Under His Light
09. You Cannot Make Him Love You
10. Under His Light
11. Into The Night
12. It's Just That My Sadness
13. Under His Light(2)
14. Miniature

The clock stroke Mitternacht (English: midnight) and the queen of sorrow, enigmatic and spiritual visible ghost Anna-Varney Cantodea and her shadows woke up from eternal sleep and presented the 12th full length studio release by the always mournful Sopor Aeternus & The Enseble Of Shadows. And if you dare to open gates to a universe of grief any agony, darkness and despair, then by all means – enter.

With a well known musical style, combining neoclassical, darkwave, folk and gothic features and exploring the sound with the use of chiding and tolling bells, trombones and violins among others, the opening intro "Mitternacht" will slowly take you in a world of sweet dreams and your worst nightmares, as it beautifully passes into a sorrowful lullaby ''Beautiful''. Minimalistic in tunes and words, this masterpiece draws the most profound, melancholic and agonizing atmosphere. It will open your old wounds and they will bleed again; it will awake your deepest fears and bring to surface your most painful memories, twisting the knife deeper into your bleeding heart and slowly dying soul. Yes, Mitternacht will evoke a wide palette of emotions with its colorful array of sounds, from sadness to insanity. And the intensity of this emotions is so powerful, you will actually feel the tragedies inside songs project into you; into your soul and distant memories you've tried to bury so deep. While "The Boy Has Build A Catacomb" sounds like a modern, creepy funeral-song,  the disturbingly morbid and monstrous "You Cannot Make Him Love You" will test your limits of sanity, portraying vividly your worst and most deranged nightmares. "La Prima Vez" (a cover of a traditional Sephardic song) and "Carnival Of Souls" (originally by Verne Langdon) will welcome you to the jet-black parade with its freakish playfulness and quirkiness, while ''If You Could Only Read My Mind'' presents a more peaceful and hopeful side of the story. As many famous (and less famous) musicians have covered Cher's more-than-famous ballad "Bang-Bang", Sopor Aeternus's version is definitely one that deserves all the attention and praise, as it takes the heart-broken and dreadful pathos to the very maximum, slowly building the intensity until it reaches its more than agonizing climax.

There seems to be three aspects of endless sorrow on Mitternacht; one stripped of everything and just existing per sé, one slowly slipping into a world of deeply disturbing derangement and one, drawing a feeling you've reached a point when you are hurting so much, you can't even feel it; you can't shed a tear or say a word. You simply give into your pain, accept your surroundings and it brings you some inner peace and even a glimpse of joy. A glimpse of joy, because you can't feel pain any more.The significant trombones and trumpets add a special value, sometimes sounding almost glorifying like at the ending of the album's closing chapter ''Miniature'', other times sounding absolutely lamenting like on the cover of Julee Cruise's ''Into The Night''. Of course Anna-Varney's vocals are – as usual-  a big and important part of the overall ambiance, because her signature, dramatic, expressing style of singing is so unique and such a great part of Sopor's music. The symbiosis between delivered melodies and her darkish, twisted, sometimes wicked and at other occasions playful vocal work is impeccable and blends together in a perfect equilibrium.

Is it a coincidence Mitternacht was released on the day of autumnal equinox? I daresay not, because this is the time of the year marks the passing of the Old Sun God as he returns to the embrace of the Goddess, who awaits him in the cold, wintry lands. This is a time, when one must mourn, but also celebrate life, because every passing, every end is a beginning of something new. And it seems Mitternacht is telling the same story, as its sundscapes portray the non compos mentis cycle of grief, pain and death, which travels slowly and anxiously into light, hope and life.

Review written by: Ines
Rating: 9/10

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