Arcanum Inferi

'Ars Hermetica'

(Black Orgon records)

MARK: 76/100


The first official CD from the Black metal combo from Catania, Sicily, is a concept in English and Latin (lyrics and artwork) about a symbolic descent to hell needed while walking the path of self-awareness. Many alchemists and hermetists were burned on a pyre during the Inquisition tribunal times. A warrior spirit coupled with melancholic fury are the elite characteristics necessary to self-renewal of one's soul; the principles of Nietzscheian Satanism whose main goal is the reaping of a knowledge denied to the masses. What sentenced Lucifer shall be the wages of occult knowledge to those ready to stand any trial and ordeal. A concept not for many, as well as a record not for many.
The music of the Sicilian 4-piece comprises dark, wicked, ritualistic elements and is primarily based upon tremolo picking riffs delivered with pretty straight formulas and absence of guitar or drum solos. This of course doesn't mean it's a catchy group of songs, it just means that Arcanum Inferi hit hard and efficiently, even if they don't spare more controlled and acoustic structures, used not in a melodic direction, but in a sombre or menacious manner.
Some folks found comparisons with Taake or fellow countrymen Stormlord; I agree with them, still, dealing with a sort of Black metal not adding anything in terms of originality from what bands such as Horna and Judas Iscariot recorded years ago, I guess there could be tons of affinities with a great deal of other smaller bands that they certainly have never listened to, both from Italy once again (for example Sigma Draconis) or from other countries with minor Black metal scenes (the Russian Twilight Is Mine have a whole lot in common during the Euro blastbeats).
Mind, it's not a matter of being original or not, the point is offering good, interesting music, and the four Sicilian horde has achieved this result with an album growing listen after listen.
The self-released debut is opened by "Praeludium", a freezing intro based on sinister keys and noises, followed by the long "Aeterna Damnatio", where the Black thrashing drumming is accompanied by Baram's demonic vocals, often doubled or overdubbed by rotten vocals (as in most of the record), performed by himself, too. Appreciable is the break with the bass lines taking the spotlight, while soon after the neckbreaking main riff goes on unstoppably to the fading with the rasping vocals not sparing an ounce of energy; the screams of the burning condemned show the martyrdom they endured to serve their ideas, paying a price as high as the one the rebel angel paid to his maker.
Like stated above, "Furor Melancholicus", is a mood felt by all those in this uncomfortable situation, all those who've followed this life path and the contrast between the early seconds and the following raw Black metal onslaught are the transposition to music of these two terms.
Owing to financial limits the recording is dry and minimalistic, which can be acceptable for the guitars, especially when they are alone or just with guttural vocals; such is the case of the beginning of "Obscura Nox Ad Inferos"; yet, when the crow-like Immortalesque vocals and the drums appear, you distinctly feel like the drums have a typical demo sound in the blastbeats, which could be so much better if there was more punch (alias fatter production); luckily the mid-tempos enjoy a more lively snare drum and don't suffer the lack of a better recording at all.
"V.I.T.R.I.O.L.", embellished by a groovy break that takes no prisoners at home and during the very rare live shows of the quartet, whereas "Fructus Interdictus" reveals itself to be quite dynamic and the drums seem to be more interesting and refined when the pace isn't full-throttle; the rifferama is also more evolved, the best Black/Death vocals of the album are here and the bass can be heard more than in other tracks; if you feel like having your face ripped off, check out this extreme metal abomination and you won't be disappointed!
"Tabula Smaragdina" sees the participation of Fearbringer's guest clean recitative and 'Viking' vocals; they are definitely an amazing plus, but in my opinion the real diamond in the song is the collection of keyboards lines in the middle, the mid tempo, and the final acoustic tunes varying the recipe a lot.
While the Enthroned-like "I.N.R.I." doesn't propose any new structure or particular and is saved by a groovy part, the closer "Silvae Viridies" is started by bifurcate declamations, soon replaced by the typical Arcanum Inferi's fugues; all of a sudden an intricate riff moves along the central meanders of the song and confirms my impression: the act has two possibilities: the first is recording a new album with a better, less boring production exalting the classical patterns the four occultists exploit almost in every track. The second is working on more various arrangements, thus reducing the number of repetitive blastbeats (almost all of the same kind, a mysterious reason of slight disappointment from a drummer who has long experience in several outfits), and increasing the mid tempos together with more unexpected or at least ear-teasing riffing. A composition to take into consideration as a paragon for future arrangements ought to be "Furor Melanhcolicus", offering all the facades the band possesses, whereas in "Obscura Nox Ad Inferos" and in the closing track are more involving rhythm changing drum patterns when the pace isn't tight due to a blastbeat which might bring the Trinacrians to a higher level. Needless to say that the two options in the same album would be the ideal, but who knows what the future holds?

MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - September 30, 2012

Line-up on this record:
Sethyel - b. (also in Alturiak)
Frozen - d. (also in Alturiak, Devotion Omega, Krowos, Lilyum, Valefar, ex-Krigere Wolf (live))
Maagher Kxeratum - g. (also in Alturiak)
Baram - v.

Francofonte (CT) - I
Official sites:

-V.I.T.R.I.O.L. (Demo-CD - 2010)
-In Tenebris Flamma Trinitas (Spli tape Valefar and Lux Maesta - 2011)
-Ars Hermetica (CD/tape - 2012)