Melankolia ‎– III

Quartier23 ‎– Q23
CD, Album

Tracklist Hide Credits

1 Formation Of The Shadow 3:06
2 Seas Of Eternity 8:23
3 In My Time Of Silence 8:42
4 Under The Sigil Of Asher (Quies Animi Pt. I) 2:59
5 Alone And Dreaming 2:03
6 The Darkness, Ever Present
Lyrics By – MelankoliaVocals – Appalachian Winter (2)
7 Beauty... Interrupted
Featuring – Immundus
8 Place Of Memory (Quies Animi Pt. II) 3:49
9 The Beauty Of Suffering 7:01
10 Lucidity Through Melancholy
Featuring – Karsten Hamre
11 The Mirror Of The Past (Quies Animi Pt. III) 3:08
12 Bring Me Victory
Remix – Mortiis
13 Take Me From This Place
Guitar – BuerLyrics By – MelankoliaVocals – Buer
14 Eastern Sun, Western Darkness
Vocals – Loell Duinn
15 Destiny's March (For All Time)
Written-By [Co-Writer] – Hoyland

Companies, etc.



There are two editions. One, the "Limited edition", was held to a production run of 23 hand-numbered copies, featuring a gold disc, as well as completely different artwork. The second, or "main" release is comprised of original art and manipulation by Marc Hoyland. The tracklisting remains the same for both releases.

Composed and Recorded at Perpetual Darkness Studios from October 2010 through January 2012.

All songs conceptualized, structured and recorded by Melankolia, with exception of track 15, which was co-written with Hoyland.

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June 26, 2012
Melankolia “III”

A review…

What a cryptic journey of contemplative reflection and sorrowful elegance this is.

“III”, the latest release from dark-ambient/neo-classical artist Melankolia is… a wonder to behold, both for its maturity, and for its movement into mythical realms of medieval imagery and classical composition.

Differing significantly from “Orpheus Down”, the only earlier Melankolia work that I’m familiar with, “III” is larger in just about every way. I say “larger” because that is the impression this music gives – medieval imagery, timeless themes, and landscapes vast in scale. Where previous work focused somewhat restrictively on smaller themes and a narrower palette of instrumentation, this album expands and contracts, waxes and wanes, lives and breathes. Haunting piano leads contrast with an often ominous undercurrent of foreboding and turmoil. Frequently apparent was the feeling that this work was the result of time and effort. To that end, this is not music for those without an attention span – patience, attention to detail, and wisdom are all required. Immediate gratification will not survive here…

“Formation of the Shadow” leads off, and sets the tone to come: sorrow, suffering, introspection, unspeakable beauty; “Seas of Eternity”, one of several fairly long tracks that demand attention and patience, is a menacing and subtle juggernaut of synthesizer and piano; “Lucidity Through Melancholy” is a five-minute meditative blast-furnace of sonic purity; “The Mirror of the Past (Quies Animi part III)” a short ambient piano interlude, is both haunting and spiritual in its construct; though I have not touched on every song individually here, the work taken as a whole is provocative, inspiring, and epic in its breadth and scope.

While much of “III” is reliant on the dauntless instrumentation of synthesizer and piano, there are a multitude of additional sounds that help to tell this story. Track 3, “In My Time of Silence” is an almost 9-minute etude of beautiful chorus, crisp harpsichord-like melodic leads, and the sound of distant thunder. Taking time to explore is a strong suit of Melankolia’s work, and this song represents that notion well. These are not the vapid musings of a manufactured pop entity. In fact, it is likely that these songs will require the listener to grow into them through time and repetition, perhaps the boldest request an artist can make of their patrons.

Melankolia “III” is actually a cannon told in three parts. More literally, this is a subtle documentation of the artist’s journey to here – the struggle and the bewilderment, the hopeful and the troublesome. Growth, introspection, pain, redemption, and renewed vigor will be your companions for this peregrination.

Also of note on this work are the contributing artists, fantastically talented all. Vocals, “additives” – including outstanding sound creations giving the illusion of life at sea aboard ancient vessels, and guitar were contributed by Appalachian Winter, Immundus, Karsten Hamre, Mortiis, Buer, Loell Duinn, and Marc Hoyland. Their impact is significant, and their experience in their craft is apparent here.

Though I know the artist, and perhaps could even speak to his influences, I will not touch on those here as this album will affect each listener differently. Suffice it to say that this is an ambitious project, and in this reviewer’s opinion, a far sight above much of what is available commercially in the “ambient” or “dark ambient” genres. Personally, I have found another critical element to my collection, an artifact that serves a very real purpose in its power to calm, soothe, and challenge my imagination.

Greg Wright


June 26, 2012
Review presented by Santa Sangre (

Melankolia is the project of ambient/neoclassical musician Mike O’Brien, under which name he has released two previous albums, the self-released “Nokturnum” (2008) and “Orpheus Down” (Quartier23, 2010). Mike is also one half of Gil-Galad, a neoclassical project that draws its content and inspiration from J. R. R. Tolkien’s work, the other half of which is Marc Hoyland, and has recently started an ambient/field recordings project named James the Lesser. “III” is being released on the German label Quartier23, home for many pioneering ritual and ambient artists, such as Hoyland, Kristus Kut and Akoustik Timbre Frekuency among others. The album is available in two editions with different artwork each, the limited edition counting only 23 already sold out copies, and containing artwork based on Gustave Doré‘s engravings for Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”. The images are symbolically chosen to represent the artist’s own course towards a meaningful self-expression.

“III” is divided into three initial parts related to the formation of the Shadow during an eclipse, namely Penumbra, Umbra and Antumbra, that according to the artist’s own interpretation represent the three parts of the human entity: mind, spirit and soul. The final part, Postscript, represents a calcification in a way, of the internal process that has preceded, as well as a substantiation of its results. The completed formation of a new personality or a new Self. The three phases of an eclipse potentially correspond to many concepts, such as the triple Goddess, the three alchemical phases of the Magnum Opus (Nigredo, Albedo, Rubedo), the IAO formula, the Thelemic signs of NOX, the Jungian symbols of individuation and several other things. Each of these phases is completed by a meditation (Quies Animi I, II and III), and we can perceive how each phase is experienced based on the titles of the songs, and of course on the music itself. The first part for instance, is a sequence of romantic, slow-tempo, piano-based tracks permeated by a feeling of noble, withdrawn melancholy, the kind that one would engage in while stargazing at night in a beautiful landscape, or listening to the waves break on some distant, quiet shore.

“Formation of the Shadow” focuses on the building up of that feeling, with a sweet, downcast melody enchanting the listener, while something slightly ominous lurks in the air. A storm is coming, and there is nothing to be done to stop it. In the nine minutes of “Seas of Eternity” the journey begins, the beautiful melody prevails through sounds of thunderstorm and imposing, while hollow synths create an undefined anxiety. As the track progresses the air is cleared and the music slowly fades into the background. “In My Time of Silence” is a slow, sombre track with a medieval overtone and heavenly male and female voices, weaving together in the internalization of the sadness and loneliness. The first of the meditations continues in the same ethereal, medieval overtone to complete the phase of Penumbra, the coming of the Shadow.

Now the Umbra has fully set in, the tone is darker and in “Alone and Dreaming” we can hear the thunder roaring and bellowing in the distance, while the traveller continues his lonely course upwards and at the same time inwards. “The Darkness, Ever Present” features some very dramatic, theatrical vocals by Daniel Klyne of Appalachian Winter, who recites the lyrics in a high-strung, Shakespearean manner. His recitation fits very well with the ethereal ambient, soundtrack-like composition and poetic lyrics, personifying the agony of the search for truth and meaning. Immundus lends some of his ghostly dark ambient wizardry to the forlorn mournfulness of “Beauty..Interrupted”, resulting in a minimalistic narration of timed pauses, repetition of phrases and layered ambient sounds in the background. Neoclassical and dark ambient may seem like opposed genres, but in this track they coexist perfectly, giving depth and atmosphere to the narration, as if it were the tale of an old king, from the time when his kingdom was thriving and he was young and strong. Now everything has died, and all that is left are half-disintegrating memories. The triumphs of the past are put aside, cherished yet overcome, and what remains is the realization of their passing. The road to a new Self is clear. The second meditation, “Place of Memory”, an overall ethereal ambient track with harmonious strings, allows the traveller to rest awhile before embarking on the final part of his journey.

I was especially struck by the fact that the third stage, Antumbra, the release of the tension in a way, does not denote some sort of exit from the situation where the soul finds itself, rather an immersion and acceptance of it. It begins by discovering “The Beauty of Suffering”, and that is in fact a very sincere and uncompromising path to personal enlightenment: to find structure in the darkness, beauty in pain, to come closer to understanding the purpose of it all. This part of the recording contains some of the most beautiful tracks in the album, from the effortless, flowing lucidity and classical grace of “The Beauty of Suffering” and “The Mirror of the Past” to the shadowy, frozen dark ambient atmospheres of “Lucidity through Melancholy”,where Karsten Hamre mediates to help breed more darkness, it is the part of the record where Melankolia’s compositional and executional skills shine the most evidently, and it is impossible for the listener not to be utterly taken in.

After the final rest comes the Postscript, the soul has now attained its realization and it is time to reach outwards, to shift the focus from the internal to the external. The tracks in this final part contain more symphonic, sometimes even majestic elements than the previous part of the recording, in what I believe to symbolize. That is partly due to the musicians who collaborate in these tracks. “Bring Me Victory”, where Melankolia collaborates with Mortiis, is timed by rhythmic percussions along an atmospheric ambient sequence, while “Take Me From This Place” contains growling, spooky vocals by Buer, that come in complete opposition to the atmospheric, meditative ambient sounds they accompany. “Eastern Sun, Western Darkness” mesmerizes the listener with its striking female vocals, strings and flutes by Croatian ensemble Loell Duinn, giving an ethnic character to the track. The recording ends with “Destiny’s March”, co-written with Marc Hoyland, that is somewhat different than the rest of the album. It is an instrumental martial track with bombastic percussions and majestic sting sequences, its austere rhythms reminiscent of an army marching through the battlefield. Somehow that is appropriate when one considers the remainder of the title (For All Time). The traveller has conquered the Shadow, and marches onwards victorious, to fulfill his destiny.

“III” is a very sensitive and personal album, absolutely sincere in terms of its source of inspiration. It depicts the personal journey to self-transformation in a symbolic manner, the hardships that may ensue from such an effort, and the embracing of the inner Shadow and feeling of sadness towards the acceptance of oneself and one’s place in the world. As the journey progresses so does the music, from the intimate, fragile character of the first stages to the more extroverted tracks of Postscript. The impressive number of guest contributors that can be found here adds diversity and range to what is already a very thoughtfully structured and well executed atmospheric ambient/neoclassical album. The diversity of the elements included in the album enhance the layered presentation of the music, which at all times remains expressive of an elegant, classical and highly romantic ideal of beauty, harmony and grace.

Reviewed by: VITRIOL


May 17, 2012

Review presented by MidwinterFires (

Melankolia is an ethereal, dark ambient project from the U.S. Melankolia was started in 2009 and has already amassed a loyal following of fans. “III” is the third release (obviously) from the project which will be released on June 21, 2012 by the German label Quartier23. My foray into dark ambient music started not so long ago with an amazing project by the name of Nights Amore which lead me to the sounds of Melankolia. I recently had the opportunity to review the split album “The Trinity of Painted Symphonies” in which Melankolia contributes four wonderful tracks and as I mentioned my review Melankolia is one a the reasons why dark the dark ambient genre has fast become one of my favourites. So I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to review this new full length album.

“III” is really a 15 song journey through darkness, solitude, melancholy and beauty. Each of these elements is ever present in all aspects of the music. The album is divided into 4 parts, “PENUMBRA”, “UMBRA”, “ANTUMBRA” and “POSTSCRIPT”. Each part contains 3-4 songs which basically represents a chapter in the progression of the music. The music itself mirrors this journey using various dark ethereal soundscapes as a canvass for sweet, melancholic leads. The leads come in many forms with the most prominent form taking the shape of pianos and acoustic guitars. It really is amazing how far synthetic midi sounds have come because I find the pianos and acoustic guitar leads take on an almost real sound at certain times. Or maybe it’s just the way Melankolia utilizes them.

One of the great features of this album is the collaborations between Melankolia and other dark ambient/neo-classical artists. Some of the artists featured on this release include Appalachian Winter, Immundus, Karsten Hamre, Mortiis, Loell Duinn and last but certainly not the least, Hoyland. On it’s own, the music of Melankolia is wonderful and it really is amazing how well the styles of all of these featured artists blend in with it so well. Each of the songs that feature a different artist has a slightly different, yet similar sound and feel to it. This means that the flow of the album is excellent. I know I go on about the flow of the music in all of my reviews but it is a very important aspect of a good album. Another thing that really impresses me is how good ambient artists like Melankolia have the ability to give synthetic music so much emotion and feeling. I would imagine this is not an easy thing to accomplish. Most bands have a hard enough time doing this with real instruments. So I give major kudos to Melankolia for this.

There are 15 tracks that make up “III”. That means there’s a a lot of music to go through but it never feels tedious or boring. Every song plays a role on this release which means the album goes through different feelings and emotions. Some are darker than others while some bring a strange sense of hope. These conflicting emotions carry on throughout the album and for me keep it interesting and relevant. It’s obvious that Melankolia carefully thought out every aspect of this album and that includes the track order.

So without further ado, let’s get right to the many highlights of this album. Believe me when I say every song has something special to offer. There are no “weak” songs. “In My Time of Silence” is a highly depressive song which builds ever so slowly into a dark and ominous atmosphere. It’s one of the longer songs on the album coming in just shy of 9 minutes. Never boring. “Alone and Dreaming…” is a very simple piano piece with thunder-like ambiance providing a little extra atmosphere. “The Darkness, Ever Present” features a wonderful spoken word performance from Dan of Appalachian Winter which is made all the better by some heavy, thoughtful lyrics. “Beauty..Interrupted (feat. Immundus)” has a great acoustic guitar melody that oozes sadness. “Bring Me Victory (featuring Mortiis)” is likely my favourite track on “III”. I don’t mean to take away from any of the pure Melankolia songs on the album but there is just something hauntingly beautiful about this track. It’s eerie, it’s creepy and it’s full of sweetness and hopeless sorrow. It’s a song that leaves a lasting impression.

“Take Me From This Place” is full of melancholic and depressive melodies and features pained, ghostly vocals singing and even brief, raw black metal growls make an appearance. The vocals were unexpected considering the album is for the most part instrumental but it was a nice surprise because they were so full of emotional impact. “Eastern Sun, Western Darkness (featuring Loell Duinn)” has a very unique sound and feel to it. New elements are once again introduced into the music including a wonderful female vocal performance which is as beautiful as it is sorrowful. Pianos, cello, bass and acoustic guitars also make an appearances atop dark ambient soundscapes. It’s simply a beautiful song with some major emotional impact. I guess that’s to be expected in a song featuring Melankolia and Loell Duinn. The final track on the album “Destiny’s March (For All Time) feat. Hoyland” is a great way to end the melancholic journey. The song begins not unlike a Summoning song with trumpets synths, keyboards and some very ominous percussion rhythms. Unlike a Summoning song their are no guitars or black metal growls piercing the epic feel of this song. That’s more than okay because this is not Summoning and the song slowly takes on a life of it’s own as it continues to evolve, always holding tight to the epic atmosphere.

The more I write, the more highlights come to mind. I had to stop myself right here because otherwise this review may never end. I’m not one to throw around over-the-top complainants in my reviews and I certainly have never used the term “masterpiece” in any of my reviews. Well, I see no other way to describe this amazing album. I feel almost dirty saying this but here goes… “III” is nothing less than a masterpiece of dark ambient music from a very talented artist and his collaborators. The album is full of emotion and feeling which is amazing considering almost everything here is done using keyboards and midi synths. Only a few songs feature vocals so the music takes on the charge of telling the story of this dark, sorrowful journey through a mind trying to come to terms with the harsh, cold reality of life. If you haven’t yet opened your mind to the world of dark ambient music, Melankolia’s “III” is a pretty damn good place to start. Of course I also would highly recommend “The Trinity of Painted Symphonies” split which features Melankolia, Hoyland and Tamerlan.

Rating: 10/10

Track Listing:

I – Penumbra

1. Formation of the Shadow
2. Seas of Eternity
3. In My Time of Silence
4. Under the Sigil of Asher (Quies animi pt. I)


5. Alone and Dreaming….
6. The Darkness, Ever Present (feat. Appalachian Winter)
7. Beauty..Interrupted (feat. Immundus)
8. Place of Memory (Quies animi pt. II)


9. The Beauty of Suffering
10. Lucidity through Melancholy (feat. Karsten Hamre)
11. The Mirror of the Past (Quies animi pt. III)
12. Bring Me Victory (feat. Mortiis)


13. Take Me From This Place (feat. Buer)
14. Eastern Sun, Western Darkness (feat. Loell Duinn)
15. Destiny’s March (For All Time) feat. Hoyland

Released date: June 21, 2012 via Quartier23.