Speaking of Hiems, drummer Gionata Potenti also plays in Frostmoon Eclipse. The La Spezia, IT band is prone to bouts of acoustic guitar in its black metal, so it's perhaps logical that the band released an all-acoustic album, Dead and Forever Gone (ISO 666, 2005). But it's also brave, given black metal's penchant for obfuscation. Take away distortion, and what does a metaller have?

What Could Have Been
It Heals, It Hurts

Melody, as it turns out. Like other successful all-acoustic metal experiments (Green Carnation's Acoustic Verses, Borknagar's Origin), this album's fate rests with its guitarists. Open strings ring aplenty, laced by delicate, precise picking. Like Borknagar, a prog rock influence is evident, particularly in the bass lines. The production is bone-dry, fully exposing the performances. At times, the vocals waver, but when they back off to hushed whispers, they're effective. Beautiful, black and white artwork wraps up this intimate package.

Dead and Forever Gone is available in Europe at Drakkar, in the UK at Grief Foundation, in the US at Hells Headbangers, and directly from the band's website.