Intaglio is a project concept that has lived in the limelight for 15 years or so since their debut. Have they been stagnant? No, musicians generally always create. Have they turned to a different genre? No, they have stuck true to what they thought was transcendental. Are they any good? II is the answer to that subjective question, so let’s see what they’ve put together for us.
The strings of death-what do they say?
Midnight Sonata -I. The Night Sky is the opening art piece. I call it an art piece and not a number because of the execution. Intaglio might be a funeral doom-death metal project, but the sense of doom, stellar loneliness and despair comes from the clever execution of strings and double bass. That is what sets them apart here as well. The song uses the depth of the cellos and distorted guitar to flush out a sound that wraps around your psyche. There are no quick pace changes, just chanting vocals entering-foreshadowing what is to come. The choir sounding vocals only enter later, making it a rich tune to begin the album with.
Keeping the flow going, Midnight Sonata -II. Melting Like Ice… uses the momentum and employs some more cultural textures. You clearly here Indian instruments or Mandala drums executing them. The cello holds the storyline, the simple instrumental sharing what is a timbre infused musical bit. About a minute in, you hear the guitars entering, aiding the simple melody as the drums follow suit. The vocals whisper, as the instrumentals dominate the profound clarity of the composition. As the marching bridge comes in before the breakdown, we hear the song mellow out to its eventual completion.
A concept album always keeps the song flowing. Midnight Sonata – III. Always Return follows in the same stream, as the growling vocals become denser and more ominous. As the single stroke riffs dominate the sonic atmosphere, single note melodies serve as an interlude in this progressive 3-piece song. By 1: 50, we build to the rhythmic part of the song which follows a beat, with a melancholy string instrumental, with bass doubling down the emotion. We hear clean vocals again, building and closing this introduction bit. Executed with curated perfection and a strange yet interesting concept to listen to.
Breaking into a new idea
Subject to Time was released as a single earlier this year, and is another melodic tapestry woven with elements of doom, death, and Intaglio’s signature string section. The drums tread lightly, yet have a clear footprint in this song. After a narrative bit, the growling commences, along with the rhythm section. Depending on single strums to ring out for the heaviness, the rhythm section intensifies, as the strings keep time with their gentle wailing. The 8-minute epic has a lot of elements, breaking between the deep sound of doom and the strings. Great track to listen to, profound to understand.
The Memory of Death opens with the guitar and a thunderous drum section, spaced out well into a juxtaposition of louder and softer riffs. One would argue that this sound is indiscernible, but this isn’t true as Intaglio pull it off. Shrewdly placing the breaks and heavier sounds in parts, they impart both the sounds that define them with purity that compromises on neither quality or delivery. It is an intense listen, with the song organically developing with the melancholy strings.
Funeral doom with contrasting elements
The next song aims to continue the melody of the previous track with some interesting chordal developments. Depths of Space is the personification of getting lost, with narration and minor scale progressions making it a sound that lingers and warps the idea of time with its strings and clean guitar sections. The middle break is a very clever addition, with the aspect of being lost in a mind not lost in ambiguity of the instrumental itself.
Everything in its Place continues in one fluid motion from Depths of Space. The song really goes through metamorphosis at midway, with its new sound being a callback to the opening but towards a new end as well. The strings coming in with its dynamism makes it clearly contrast the heavier part before the lyrics are put across. They close the song with the soft instrumental, the style with which they began. A full circle, like life.
II is a complex masterpiece for a project that seems to have been on hold for so long. In a stage of supposed incubation, they really seemed to have thrived, as a one-man project or the makings of different group dynamics. This album is a concept that has been tried, yet never been executed with such contrasting styles coming together. So, to answer the introduction banter question, is it any good? Very. A benchmark for the whole idea to live up to, so we can’t wait for more.