Caedeous is a band I have spoken about in great lengths recently. Having both reviewed their debut full-length album, ‘Domini Tenebrarum’, and interviewed the mastermind behind this project, Portugese composer, Paulo J. Mendes, the brilliance of this project can once again be stated purely by its genre and mixing of tropes: a coupling of extreme symphonic metal, with orchestrations and horror-layered storytelling akin to traditional haunted house aesthetics.

What first began as a project from the mind of Mendes in 2014 has evolved over these past four years to become something even more grand than he’d first imagined. Having first begun the recording of ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ in those formative years, the album was shaped through the use of live orchestra and choir (as composed by Mendes), equally to nine tracks and to a total running time just shy of an hour at fifty-one minutes and thirty-three seconds. Between October 2014 to June 2015, the early recordings for ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ were showcased as an epic horror orchestra soundtrack reel before for Music Supervisors and private music libraries in Hollywood, Los Angeles USA, thanks in part to the reputation of Paulo J. Mendes and his background and impressive portfolio within the soundtrack industry in Los Angeles and Georgia, respectively.

By 2015, the name Caedeous had been registered as an official trademark and by March 2017, the shaping of the what ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ would settle as took place with the auditioning of one Rute Fevereiro, of Enchantya and Black Widows. With Fevereiro’s specialties as a vocalist and lyricist, along with her background in symphonic metal and her ability to shift between clean and harsh vocals gave Mendes the edge for Caedeous he’d been after. Fevereiro soon became the main lyricist for Caedeous, serving to shape the story of ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ under Mendes’ unique vision.

A few months later saw session musicians Bruno Guilherme (Cruz de Ferro), Bernardo Rodriguez (ex-Requiem Laus), and Manuel Pinto (ex-Enchantya) join Caedeous, filling in roles for drums, guitars, and bass for the recording and live performances.

As written in my review, ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ is an ambitious album. It at once recalls the likes of Cradle of Filth, Summoning, and Carach Angren, and at others removes itself far from those to becomes its own individual and fascinating entity. Soaked in influences ranging from symphonic metal to black metal and experimental territory, it is most effective perhaps when it seeks to pull you in by its own theatrical flavour. Reminding of the more recent outings of Carach Angren, the theatrical and orchestral horror tale it weaves through its music and narrative voice is compelling.

The album doesn’t shy away from moments of unease and delights in stripping you of comfort as you listen through it. It’s a wonder to behold, and the creepily engaging characters who chime in over the orchestral arrangements is inspired. While it can be argued that ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ isn’t necessarily groundbreaking, it is fresh. And that is something that can only be highly regarded in what is now a very oversaturated market. You can turn and see many albums that deal with extreme symphonic metal (whether it’s in the originators such as Septicflesh or in newer acts that crop up often), but what separates Caedeous from the herd then is its ample desire to move beyond the mere tried-and-true methods of its counterparts. The effort here to do ‘something different’ can be felt strongly here, and for that, I must commend it.

To compare this album to the current climate of horror films in Hollywood, ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ has the feeling of being like James Wan’s The Conjuring (2013). A film that didn’t break the mould or do anything that hadn’t already been done before, but it took what worked in classic horror cinema and made something of it that managed to come across as being wholly original, fresh, and utterly terrifying. You will hear familiar beats to ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ that will recall other bands and familiarities as it did for me, but perhaps, like me too, you might also find a few unexpected black opals amongst it as well.

A labour of love for Paulo J. Mendes, ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ is an album in 2018 that is worth your time to look into.