Embryonic Cells – Horizon

Rating: 2.5/5
Distributor/label: Apathia Records
Released: 2018
Buy Album: https://embryoniccells.bandcamp.com/album/horizon
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/Embryonic-Cells-179425228782758/


Maxime Beaulieu – Vocals & Guitar,
Pierre Touzanne – Bass,
Jonathan Lemay – Drums,
Pierre Le Pape – Synths.


1. Crossing
2. Don’t Serve Your King
3. Carved In My Skin
4. Never Let You Fall
5. Across The Mountains
6. Horizon…
7. To Horizon
8. No Boundaries


More recent readers will have noticed that yours truly finds a little whimsy in the write-ups us revered critics are given prior to disparaging any material. Okay, we’re all sent it (even the crap ones), but it’s nevertheless amusing to read some of the effusive language detailing the band. The predicament is you need to explain who the band are, etc., whilst simultaneously hyping them up – a tricky balance to strike. It can be a little dry, or it can be so wet the Met Office has issued a weather warning for “light, patchy drizzle”.

The problem with all that promo and bio blurb is that it’s so easy to go to the extreme to sell a band’s sound and elevate it to a preposterous level. What on earth is wrong with stating a little about what the band sounds like and a bit about their history? Why this need to write some pseudo-Tolkien prose to describe what is, ostensibly, a black metal band with a penchant for dipping their collective toes into the symphonic side of music? All this bluster just sets a band up to fall and, unfortunately, EMBRYONIC CELLS do fall.

We’re not talking some sort of Luciferian “fall from Heaven” type thing (not that bad), but it’s a definite “coming up short” deal. Yes, EMBRYONIC CELLS do peddle a symphonic black metal sound, but it’s very much an unexceptional sort. Think of a less grandiose DIMMU BORGIR, or less sophisticated EMPEROR and you still won’t be any closer.

“Horizon” generally feels very by-the-numbers in its approach to the genre; almost a gateway to the aforementioned gods up on high. So if, by the promise of “riffs like a sharp blizzard”, vocals like “a terror blown from the horn of the ancestors” and keyboards that “fall on the enemy like ghosts of ice with bewitched voices”, you’re expecting some sort of monolithic bastion of the genre, prepare yourself for something a little more… Human.

“Never Let You Fall” is a prime example. A sprawling, pseudo-epic that’s enriched by those “ghostly” keys somewhat, but one that just can’t seem to lift itself up. There’s certainly power and purpose behind the maelstrom, but it’s just there. It exists and little else. The sky-meets-sea one-two of “Horizon…” and “To Horizon” offers a pleasant bit of variety in slowing things down to ballad levels, with crooning clean vocals rearing their head, but any tenderness or emotion is dismissed with a gentle shrug and an “ehhh” demeanour.

The production is fine, and the songwriting is okay, but “Horizon” fails to lift itself above the hundreds of other symphonic black metal albums out there. There’s little to distinguish EMBRYONIC CELLS from the myriad of other bands out there peddling the same stuff – and that’s painful to say. Ask yourselves, lads: what makes you unique in this world? The age of sweeping innovation in music has long gone, with genre-blending often a horrific splicing of spare parts that should be condemned and set on fire, but all bands can offer something to the world. It’s a commendable effort from these Frenchmen, but one that will slot in almost anonymously with everything else.