Sunday 25 February 2018

ALBUM REVIEW: Cultus Profano, "Sacramentum Obscurus"

By: Conor O’Dea

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 23/02/2018
Label: Debemur Morti Productions

"This is black metal at its bleakest, most oppressive 

“Sacramentum Obscurus” CD//DD//LP track listing:

1. Conventus Esbat, Op. 8
2. Under the Infernal Reign, Op. 10
3. Ceremony of the Black Flame, Op. 4
4. Lord of Ages, Op. 2
5. Ignis Altare, Op. 5
6. An Offering to the Prolific Goat, Op. 7
7. Forging a Covenant, Op. 6
8. Awakening the Strzyga, Op. 1
9. Cultus Profano, Op. 9 

The Review:

Debemur Morti has been the host of a number of my absolute favourite artists over the years. The roster has been strong enough that I have frequently found new favourites by keeping a close eye on their lineup, and they are now among the few labels on the planet that I consider in the "must listen/must buy" category. That being said, Debemur Morti releases possess a curious anti-signature or fall under an inverted or distorted emblem: they are almost always boundary-pushing and difficult to categorize; never easily this or that, they discomfit by occupying a unnameable between. While much of the material released lies in these uncomfortable and ambiguous liminal realms that border on black, death and industrial, Cultus Profano is actually both unusual and outstanding in its orthodoxy: this is true, occult, sinister-as-Vamachara black metal. Its tremendous success is partially rooted in the depths that it adheres to this foreboding and shadowy terrain: it moves downward into occult black metal instead of across. Rather than distort through vertiginous borrowings, what we see here in a fervid mining of the abyss itself, obliterating the dark ground until gaping black remains. 

The nine tracks presented here are raw and uncompromising; there are traces of Finnish melodicism but they are crushed under the weight of a feverish, plague-house atmosphere; dark rituals worked among the bearers of incurable illness. The album as a whole carries with it an unforgiving 'heaviness' in terms of malevolent gravitas, accented by a number of elements, including the swirling nature of the riffs themselves and the reverb-saturated trade-offs between literally frightening male and female vocals. These tradeoffs in particular offer a further decentring for the listener: echoes coming from the shadowed recesses of whatever chamber of charnel horror from which this bleak and abominable act emerged. If I were to offer a phrase to encapsulate the mood that permeates and pervades all the tracks, it would be something like somber exultation in the sickness unto death. This album is not fun and it feels unholy. 

This is black metal at its bleakest, most oppressive and most 'occult' in terms of being evocative of the forbidden, hidden and unspeakable. A caveat: uncareful listening will open interpretations of sameness where these corrupt tonal simulacra are in fact the desired product of the Operators. 

“Sacramentum Obscurus” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp