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Porta Nigra - Fin de Sielce (Debemur Morti Productions)

By: David E. Gehlke

[7/10] Since legs don't translate very well visually, hands appear to the extremity of choice when it comes to point-of-focus subjects for metal album covers. They're in all sorts of poses - against glass, clenched, the proverbial one-finger "salute," so on and so forth, yet Porta Nigra's Fin del Sielce takes it to another level. The arched hand that appears on Fin de Sielce is elegant enough for any run of the mill adult beverage commercial, while evoking fond memories of when George Costanza was slated to become a hand model, only to have his career ruined when he's pushed into a hot iron by one of Jerry's friends. Hopefully the same fate doesn't befall this hand model...

The black metal duo that comprise of Germany's Porta Nigra is drummer/vocalist O. and guitarist Gilles de Rais, which surely is not this gentleman's real name. Naturally, there's plenty of cloak-and-daggering going on, purveying the type of world-weary black metal that cuts the top off convention (read: anything Norwegian), while attaching itself to the self-fulfilling prophecy of avant-garde black metal (read: Celtic Frost and beyond). Therefore, Fin de Sielce is a tough go for the most part, save for the immediacy of "Megalomaniac," which finds O. turning in some tuneful clean vocal amidst a backdrop of swirling chords and atmosphere to the max. However, the rest of the album can't gain the same traction, as Porta Nigra's intellectual angle doesn't bend as well as it should, save for closing finesse of "Tod Meiner Lust."

There's no shortage of bands like Porta Nigra, the likeliest reason being that everyman black metal just doesn't cut it these days. Fin de Sielce basically casts aside old traditions and angles for new, but that doesn't always translate into success. Call this one a draw and if you're going to drink...call yourself a cab.

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