July 29, 2012

The Chronicles of Israfel – Starborn, Tome I (2007)

For my second review, I originally had in mind presenting Giant Squid’s opus magnum “The Ichthyologist”, but that was before I realized I am not yet prepared for tackling with an album of such belligerent nature (yes, every time I listen to it my brain gets a hell of a beating, somewhat like an upgraded version of Fight Club). Worry not though, my dear readers/Tzeeeac fanboys and girls, I have something special prepared in the form of a home brewed Canadian stew (I know, I know, it’s not a beverage) that aptly takes the name of the title that befits this article. But first, a little history:

Back in 2002, there was a little game that saw the day of light and hit the shelves of the industry stores proudly going by the name of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 (wait, hold on, there is a connection, I beg you to keep reading). It had, imho, the best soundtrack that you could ask for considering its nature as an arcade racing game, full of rock/techno songs, all of them that still get constant “airtime” from my home-made-and-inappropriately-huge-speakers-built-to-annoy-the-neighbours (yes, I’m bragging, so either sue me or read on). All things considered, there was one song that tickled my fancy a tad more than the others, and that song was Build Your Cages, belonging to the now defunct Pulse Ultra (more specific, it was the single taken from the band’s only release, Headspace, an album that’s also begging for a review from yours truly).  One of the founders of this band was Dominic Cifarelli, composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist and all-around genius if you ask me, and The Chronicles of Israfel (yes, that is the band’s name, I’ve not yet went goo-goo-ga-ga on you) is his proud-born solo outing after the splitting of Pulse Ultra.

Now that this image of “Yes, my name is Israfel, I’m a mastermind and if you don’t listen to my album until your eyes pop out I will destroy you!” has sunk into your brain, we will continue. 

What say you, it hasn’t? Well then, let me be kind enough and make you watch it again, only this time bigger and more pixelated: 

Are you a mindless minion now, ready to listen and absorb my words? Are you? Hmm? Yes?? GOOD THEN, let’s continue.

The album turns its swag on with a big, bold and bad-ass trio of instrumental depictions of Dominic’s guitar mastery, in both skill and composition. I say this because rarely have I listened to a near-perfect blend of musicality and solo work, as Dom (he likes this short-version of his name, he told me himself sometime ago while we were having a cold one at a local pub) manages with great success to avoid falling into the pitfall of “Look at me, I can shred, watch me do it for twenty minutes non-stop” kind of guitar wankery. Simply put, he starts slow, builds on the song, delivers the punchline (on the tasteful side) and then eases into the next song, as intended, never taking you by the throat and spoon-feeding you a bunch of random notes just for the sake of successfully navigating his fret board.

Here, listen yourself, so it may lock into your minds as you read the rest of my holy words, so say we all.

What comes next is more on the experimental side of metal, containing a set of tracks that could stand as an independent album, complete with lyrics that follow Israfel, the main character, “in his search for a new home and the self discovery of his superior inner design” (I told you and I'm telling you again, Dom is a frakkin’ genius). From the slow and peaceful intro that is Burning Day, the excellent acoustic work in The Equinigma, the down tuned epicness of Laudanum (killer song name, I tell you, Metallica take heed *fist raised*) all the way through the war chants of Nation, Born Fighting and Kill Division, we come to what is the next stand-out piece of the album, suitably named New Mood Therapy for a Medicated Babylon (you see, YOU SEE???),  in which Dom’s brother, Vincent, takes the helm of the keys and navigates through the ever changing soundscapes, creating a musical eargasm that comes second only to the first three tracks of this baby. After that, Eugenics and Home to Oblivion take on a more serious approach, with some chugga-chugga thrown in for diversity, along with (again) some excellent solo work from Dom. 

The only flaw that I can think of regarding this album is the subpar quality of the final track Lacrima Christi, compared to the rest of the songs. Those effects on the vocals are just pure and simply annoying and they go on for more than they should, even if the track is just two minutes long. But I’m willing to throw this personal consideration over my shoulder, as the song itself is not your standard album closer, since there are two more planned for this concept (damnit, Dom, why you make me wait so much for the second one?? *fist raised again*).

THE END. (see, I too can write an abrupt finale to my awesome review, just as Dom did with this album).

J/k there, but really, here’s a bit of a summary for you, the more lazy type:

Pros: great guitar work, keys that complement very well the other instruments, the general atmosphere of the album.

Cons: drumming is a bit standard, there’s really nothing to hold a candle to, considering the whole gamut borders more on the progressive side.

Highlights:  Starborn Part I-III, Laudanum, New Mood Therapy for a Medicated Babylon

Rating: 9

Track List:
  1. Starborn Part I: Empire of Light
  2. Starborn Part II: Citizen
  3. Starborn part III: On A Forever Road
  4. Burning Day
  5. The Equinigma
  6. Laudanum
  7. Nation
  8. Born Fighting
  9. Kill Division
  10. New Mood Therapy for a Medicated Babylon
  11. Eugenics
  12. Home To Oblivion
  13. Lacrima Christi

P.S:  Also, do yourself a favor and check out the piano work from Dom’s brother Vincent. Here’s a taste, you lazy monkeys.


  1. Yo Zulu, really dug the Battlestar Galactica reference. :)

    1. Yeah well, writing the review while at the same time keeping an eye on Caprica wasn't easy :)

  2. Holy shit, that's a huge review. I think we have an overachiever among us. Great read, though, I'm listening to Laudanum as I type.

    1. You'll be glad to know I don't like track by track reviews, now THAT would have meant overachieving XD