Splendidula - Post Mortem

8 songs
42:26 minutes
***** ****


Splendidula is a kind of firefly, and also the name of a Belgian rock band who released in 2013 their eponymous debut album, a quite ok effort. A five year studio break ensued before it was time for their second longplayer Post Mortem, a huge improvement over the debut, which might possibly be explained by a handful of line-up changes.

Itís hard to categorise Splendidula stylistically. Itís not heavy enough for metal, and rock would be too vague. There are elements of gothic metal, stoner rock, post rock and even some doom metal, and their progressive side should also be mentioned. The songs usually take their time building up momentum, with fast parts occurring only occasionally. Sometimes there are rousing moments, at times accompanied by male growls, but Splendidula rather like to create a moody image that also conveys a certain dreamy sense of mysticism. Centre of attention is Kristien Cools with her fantastic voice. Her vocal performance is full of conjuring rapture, and reminds a lot of Anneke van Giersbergen. Actually it isnít wrong to compare Splendidula to The Gathering during the era of Mandylion and Nighttime Birds.

If you subtract the intro and the outro, you are only left with six regular songs. But they are all, except for the unusually heavy single .38, between six and eight minutes long. These generous lengths allow Splendidula to fill their songs with surprising twists and turns. I have picked Too Close To Me and Insanity as two highlights to check out, but the remaining material is just as fine.

Post Mortem is among my personal highlights of the year 2018. The songs are full of suspense and never fail to amaze. Itís too rare that artists create music with the quality of unpredictability. And while I have had a lot of good words for the French metal scene lately, it must be said that Belgium also has its share of high quality bands. This quintet from Genk plays on an incredibly high level and deserves to attract a demanding and sophisticated audience.

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