Midnight Odyssey – Biolume Part 3: A Fullmoon Madness Review

Shards of Silver Fade is a journey … and it must be taken as a whole to absorb its mood and atmosphere. With that, it’s difficult at times to remember the beginning once you’ve reached the end … Shards has moments of beauty, moments of captivation, and moments of splendor; however, it’s so long it becomes a chore to come back to.” Shards of Silver Fade, 142 minutes, 2.5/5.0, Grier.

“For all its grandeur and the skill with which its components are stitched together, Biolume I has a couple issues, the main one still being length … This is an inherent risk with one-man projects. On the one hand, you get to hear the undiluted emotions of one person distilled into musical form without censor but, on the other, you get to hear the undiluted emotions of one person distilled into musical form without censor.” Biolume Part I: In Tartarean Chains, 71 minutes, 3.5/5.0, Me.

“The sheer scope of Midnight Odyssey’s ambition on The Golden Orb cannot be denied. It’s a massive, sprawling record with moments of true beauty … [but the] fantastic moments … are lost, stranded in the wastes of Midnight Odyssey’s ambient desert …” Biolume Part 2: The Golden Orb, 102 minutes, 2.5/5.0, Me.

OK, so quoting extensively from three previous reviews is an unusual way to start a review (but we’ve done worse, much worse) but it’s impossible to approach the conclusion of Midnight Odyssey’s Biolume trilogy, without acknowledging, front and center, the consistent issue identified in our reviews both of Parts 1 and 2, and of the trilogy’s predecessor, Shards of Silver Fade. The high point (at least as far as scores on this site go, for whatever they’re worth) was Biolume Part I: In Tartarean Chains, which drew together the highs of Shards and foreshadowed aspects of Biolume Part 2: The Golden Orb, but packaged as a (relatively) bite-sized morsel. Even then, it creaked ever so slightly under its own weight. On Biolume Part 3: A Fullmoon Madness, we find dark Australian luminary Dis Pater once more pushing boundaries.

The Biolume trilogy is massive, not only in runtime but also in the scope of its storytelling. The records move from darkened subterranean halls on In Tartarean Chains, through a blinding desert of celestial light on The Golden Orb to stare at the haunting night sky, dimly lit by that same light reflecting off a dead satellite on A Fullmoon Madness. Perhaps it was always inevitable that, as we moved up through these levels, each would be vaster in scope and scale than the last. A Fullmoon Madness opens in a way that immediately recalls both its predecessors in the trilogy. “As Darkness Dims the Fire” initially offers up delicately clanking chains and shimmering synth work, before Midnight Odyssey’s symphonic grandeur takes over. Gothic and ornate synths border on classical in their sensibilities and provide the platform for the first distended doom riff, which in turn bridges into lush atmospheric black metal, with Pater’s clean chants and rasping shrieks riding high. Six minutes down, 118 to go.

Biolume Part 3 – A Fullmoon Madness by Midnight Odyssey

I am being more than a little flippant with the runtime stuff here but, as Grier and I have both said (of Shards and The Golden Orb, respectively), it’s genuinely hard in a review1 to give more than overall impressions of these leviathans, calling out a few special moments. A Fullmoon Madness does live up to its name, as it shifts through sprawling moments of splendor, chaos, and reflection, cast in bright synths and ambient sensibilities, through harsh explosions of black metal fury into dilated doom. While Midnight Odyssey continues to draw inspiration (musically and vocally) from the likes of Bathory—both the Under the Sign of the Black Mark and Nordland incarnations—and Woods of Ypres, with similarities to some of Spectral Lore’s work also (“A Land that Only Death Knows”), the sprawling, often percussion-less ambience is just as integral a part of A Fullmoon Madness’ fabric. Indeed, those two aspects of the sound are woven together more seamlessly and to greater effect than on either of the other Biolume entries and to genuinely haunting effect (“Witching Eyes” and “The Ghost of Endymion”).

Slithering between smothering, oppressive black metal, uplifting ambience, and portentous doom (title track), A Fullmoon Madness somehow manages to maintain a real sense of energy and purpose for much of its two-hour-plus runtime. Despite being significantly longer than The Golden Orb, it avoids many of the missteps of that record, with the overall sound being both more textured and the songwriting more varied, giving the whole thing discernible shades and moods. Perhaps, as Grier observed of Shards versus 2011’s Funerals from the Astral Sphere, the actual number of songs matters. 13 here, versus nine on The Golden Orb, simply allows for more differentiation. Even with only two tracks below the eight-minute mark, this allows Midnight Odyssey to imbue each with a distinct character and mood, meaning they stand apart from each other more, with the churning, propulsive atmoblack rhythms of “In the Lunar Maelstrom” immediately distinguishable from the borderline-orchestral ornamentation of the following track, “Death in Crimson Fire.” In addition, Pater’s vocals here are the strongest I’ve heard from him, his David Gold-esque cleans reaching new heights, while his rasping harsh vox are more varied, with more of an icy bite. Standing tall at a DR9, A Fullmoon Madness is also easy listening from a production point of view, rich and textured, it breathes and flows, meaning that, for all its length, it isn’t tiring to listen to.

It’s now four years since I reviewed In Tartarean Chains, a record so different from 2021’s The Golden Orb that it was almost hard to believe they were two parts of a trilogy. On A Fullmoon Madness, Midnight Odyssey has stitched together the threads, bridging the chasm between Parts 1 and 2, darkness and light. It’s well written, very well performed, and a much better conclusion to the trilogy than I’d dared hope for, especially given it clears the two-hour mark. That said, it has issues. Two of those are tracks. “The Long Forgotten Dead” feels slightly out of place, with its furious black metal feeling somehow lackluster and simplistic, when set against the likes of the title track or the gorgeous “They Have Always Known,” while closer “Luna,” a purely synth-and-clean-vocal affair, feels like it ends both the album and the trilogy on an ethereal whimper, rather than the celestial dreaminess that I suspect Pater was going for. The final issue is, of course, length. There is some stunning work here. Biolume Part 3: A Fullmoon Madness is both more cohesive and more compelling than either of its predecessors and, for the diehard Midnighters among you, I can well see it taking a place in the canon alongside Shards as a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

However, there is also a simple truth about my (now long-)lived experience of A Fullmoon Madness: for all its undoubted qualities, its sheer length means I simply won’t return to it. This is obviously a highly personal view but I simply don’t have the time, patience, or inclination to regularly hit play on a two-hour-plus album, even one with highs like this, when there are so many excellent 40 to 60-minute albums that demand my attention.

Rating: Very Good/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Websites: midnightodyssey.bandcamp.com | midnightodysseyofficial.com | facebook.com/midnightodyssey
Releases Worldwide: November 24th, 2023

The post Midnight Odyssey – Biolume Part 3: A Fullmoon Madness Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.

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