Arctic Plateau – The Enemy Inside (Prophecy Productions)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 9.5/10

Those who are moved, swayed, and are emotionally affected by the masterworks of Katatonia, Anathema, and the current French wave of Alcest and Les Discrets should find instant solace in The Enemy Inside, the second album from Italy’s Arctic Plateau. The one-man project of singer/songwriter Gianluca Divirgilio, Arctic Plateau revels in the same minimalistic, yet outwardly lush and thought-provoking field as the above-mentioned quartet, albeit with a different tone, stance, angle, and perspective. No need for hyperbole here; The Enemy Inside is the real deal.

Essentially a dark rock album with traces of shoegaze and even scanter traces of metal, The Enemy Inside hits a virtual bulls-eye across the lot with each of its 11 songs. Divirgilio’s playing is restrained and reserved, utilizing barren chords and simple song constructs. In fact, a lot of these songs get cut off right at their climax (see: “Melancholy Is Not Only For Soldiers” and “Abuse”), while others bask in a glow that is hard to resist, most notably “Big Fake Brother,” which is about as moving of a song Blistering has heard in recent memory. The man knows how to pick his spots; when not to sing and when to strike with a chilling vocal line, like on “Idiot Adult.”

The album’s ability to volley between grief-stricken numbers like the title track and “Wrong” and the amiable strolls in the dark rock flower field like “Loss and Love” and the aforementioned “Big Fake Brother” is the defining trait here. These songs are expertly-placed in the running order, thus striking the necessary balance between dark and light, sad and cheery…or any other feeling one can conjure up. And Divirgilio’s easy-going vocal style (the man’s English is adorned nicely by his very noticeable accent) is oftentimes a soothing component, reassuring and impactful at the same time.

Without trying to gush too much, The Enemy Inside is every bit as capable as scaling the same mountain Katatonia climbed with Viva Emptiness or Anathema did with Eternity. This is an album one can lean on and return to time and time again. Absolutely brilliant.

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