While some could argue taking one’s debut album and creating a wholly separate (and purely orchestral) album to be a self-indulgent endeavour, in the case of Caedeous’ ‘Orchestral Sessions’ release (based upon their full-length, ‘Domini Tenebrarum’), it rather adds another dimension to the expertise and genius behind the mind of chief composer, Paulo J. Mendes. In the way looking behind-the-scenes through a film composer’s process as they craft their unique vision for the film score adds a new layer of understanding to how their music shapes the emotional impact of a scene, utilising the orchestral movements and narrative passages in the way Mendes has here with ‘Orchestral Sessions’ is indeed an exercise in total creative expression. While the tracklist is exactly the same to that of ‘Domini Tenebrarum’, this release instead divides them into the manner of seven individual “Acts”, as if they were designed to be used as the music for a live stage show. This isn’t surprising if you look into Mendes’ professional background, where he has worked previously in Los Angeles and Georgia within the soundtrack industry.

It was something I remember first struck me when I originally listened to ‘Domini Tenebrarum’: just how much that album had the feeling and arrangements of being like a movie score more than a purely symphonic metal release. It’s that that separates what Caedeous has done here when compared to other bands who have also released fully instrumental versions of their album. Many of the same or familiar beats and movements from ‘Domini Tenebrarum’ are present here, but they have been repackaged and represented in a number of areas; such as with the bridge for Act IV: Light of Darkor. The enchanting and haunting vocals of Rute Fevereiro are once again given centre-stage, but her role here is far more prevalent, as her harsh vocals spit venom from below the orchestral movements. It is a wondrous and darkly beautiful thing to behold.

With the majority of the tracks shortened in length from their original counterpart, this album flows with the elegance and swiftness of a river bearing a notable current. It carries you downstream, as your eyes (and ears) become attuned to the ominous imagery presented via the strings, choirs, and distorted notes.

The most impactful element of this album comes from the strength delivered in the one-two punch of the orchestral arrangements and the harsh narrative play. Coupled with the ghostly delivery of Fevereiro’s operatic vocals and the malicious undertones of her harsh performance awards the listener with an album that is best experienced as a whole package in one full play-through. Act VI: Siege of Draedemor is a standout on the ‘Orchestral Sessions’ album, offering one of the more ominous and engaging tracks across the album. Full to the brim with dark ambiance, powerful choirs and instrumental passages, and unsettling samples, it lends itself wonderfully to just how well this record conjures sights and sounds of horror and fear. As the album closes with the six-and-a-half minute epic that is Act VII: Valley of the Wicked, we, as the listener, are treated to a finale wherein all the sounds that were made prevalent across the album come together for a stunning conclusion.

Full credit must be given to Paulo J. Mendes and Rute Fevereiro. They have once again shown just how versatile and talented they each are as individuals, and the combining of their talent on this record is—as it is with its originator—a marvelous thing to behold. They both pour their hearts and souls into these compositions and performances, delivering a record both flavoursome and bold.

Get your copy of “Orchestral Sessions: Domini Tenebrarum” on iTunes here, or stream it on Spotify here.