November Roundup: Rotten Filth, Reality-ripping Warp Spasms & Medieval Madness
French restaurant bite-sized reviews from Ceremonial Torture, Lucubration, Gate of the Silver Star, Septage & Black Crucifixion
Ceremonial Torture – Sabbath, Thou Arts
Behest – June 30th
A one-man project from the mind of Goatprayer Doom Predictor of many bands, Witchcraft most prominently perhaps, Ceremonial Torture is hardly black metal as you’ve come to expect it. Building on the heavy metal inspired, melodic foundation of the Greek black metal scene, heavily distorted, mid-tempo bass riffs dominate the compositions marked by a distinct lack of guitars. Wild, medieval keyboards dance all over the songs reminding at times of Blessed in Sin but in the end Ceremonial Torture has managed to create something unique. A highlight of the year.
Lucubration – Aspiration of Corrupted Ancient Blood
Self-identifying as black metal war apocalypse, Lucubration is dirty and heavy as hell. Ultra-primitive death & black metal metal with a strong noise presence and ties to Oksennus. Two songs, twenty minutes and a whole lot of noise t- the latter track resides entirely on this region. Obviously it comes with a hearty recommendation.
Septage – Septisk Eradikasyon
Dark Descent Records – August 13th
A death and goregrind trio featuring members from Taphos and Hyperdontia, Septage has released two 7″ in fairly quick succession, the latter of which Septisk Eradikasyon is. Leaning strong towards the death part of their equation, the gore is mainly present in the imagery and the vocals, and as a residual Carcass influence best heard at the group’s least interesting moments. These four songs have some of the best individual riffs these guys have attached themselves onto.
Gate of the Silver Star – The Contortion and Crystallisation of Aetheric Viperae
Inverse Solar Reqvriem – May 23rd
Recorded in 2012 but released only this past year, Gate of the Silver Star’s second demo mixes the occult mysteries of Abigor’s Fractal Possession with the mayhemic but angular and weird death of Mitochondrion, replacing the former’s industrial sensibilities with a bizarre lead tone. Anxiety inducing black metal has a hard time getting any more anxiety inducing than this.
Black Crucifixion – Triginta
Seance Records – November 26th
Black Crucifixion’s been around since the very early 90’s. Or rather, was around for was around for the early 90’s, during which they recorded a couple of demos and an EP, before taking an extended hiatus. Though they’ve achieved a kind of an cult-status, they remain firmly at it’s more obscure side – 15 years after breaking the silence. You’d think some of the members who’ve come and gone would alone have raised them to greater heights, lord knows lesser bands have achieved them through lesser members, Beherit’s Sodomatic Slaughter played drums for them in the 90’s and prog rock legend Rekku Rechardt, best known for his stay in Wigwam between 1974 and 2018, has been playing guitar on their last few.
Of course, although that may be the claim to fame for some, it’s not a reason anyone should be best known for, and Black Crucifixion’s always stood firmly on their own feet when it came to music. Back in the early days of the band, their style was more firmly rooted in that Beherit-esque black metal lashing, although with less Blasphemy flirtation and a tad more traditionally symphonic use of keyboards, albeit at a time when such thing as traditional use of synths in black metal didn’t exist. Their approach to playing was more rollicking, and not as blunt – ever since their 2006 comeback album Faustian Dream, these have been the attributes most developed.
Said album wasn’t so great, if you ask me, but it did present the band’s new direction honed in the Douglas Adams-esque four-part-trilogy that followed. Hope of Retaliation featured four new songs, including the band’s only gig-hit “Retaliation”, and an assortment of recent live recordings of older pieces. Considered by the band a “half-album”, it was followed by Coronation of King Darkness and Lightless Violent Chaos, two full-lengths that further pushed their music towards harsh but dreamlike flow and almost psychedelic expression. The trilogy now concludes with another “half-album”, Triginta, as the band celebrates the 30th anniversary of their birth.
The opener “Night Birds Fall Upon You” completes another trilogy – that of titles, with Hope’s “Night Birds Sing Your Demise” and Coronation’s “What The Night Birds Sang”, adapting the former’s lyrics into English and replacing the cello-drones with a punishing but lively beatdown with scant hints at the group’s introspective side while “Beyond Linkola” offers a glimpse to the less black metal rhythmic inspiration and let’s Rechardt’s guitar shine before plunging into a tremolo-picked blizzard, all in about three minutes and without the slightest hint of rush. Concluding the studio-side, “Throneburner” ties the two off at the ends and makes for another attempt at a gig hit.
As expected the live material largely represents their newer material, splitting between songs from Faustian Dream and Hope of Retaliation, only featuring the band’s titular song from the ’91 debut demo. Clear and powerful, they enable Triginta to give a more in-depth look into Black Crucifixion’s idiosyncratic world and to the musical reasons they’ve stood apart from any and every scene they rooted from. The only thing missing are the longer songs like “Lodestar”, “Thieves” or “Free of Light” which have always allowed for the group to better show their other side, even if the shorter material here does glimpse at it. But it’s also a matter of time, and tension that simply doesn’t fit into three, or even five, minutes. As a final note, I will say that the vocals, more rough than actually harsh, do benefit from the possibilities of a studio setting, as opposed to a live one.