Release DetailsLABEL The Ajna Offensive
RELEASED ON 4/4/2007
De Contemplanda Morte
posted on 9/2007 By:
Mortuus continue The Ajna Offensive’s tradition of releasing quality black metal for the thinking black metal fan. Like many of the NED bands with similarly intellectual aspirations, Mortuus prove themselves equally capable of expressing their malcontent musically, which is to say that this is a really heavy psychological and emotional listen, because De Contemplanda Morte is death worship that is both explicitly stated and felt in every note. Their talent should come as no surprise given the two Swedes’ previous work in Ofemord and Ondskapt. What did surprise me, though, was the music itself: this is slow, atmospheric black metal, with very few blast beats and compositions that crawl and heave organically rather than rip and tear violently.
If for no other reason, De Contemplanda Morte would be a success simply because its intended goal is definitely met. I’m not usually one to use lyrics or interviews to support an opinion on music, but in this sort of heady black metal I think it’s more than justified, so here’s what the band said of the album in an interview earlier this year: “It is Death music, celebrating the glory of the God of Death.” Whatever the God of Death is, I know I’m feeling it when I’m listening to De Contemplanda… The riffs are pure evil and vocals savage, but what makes the mood here so unbearably and wickedly disturbing is the atmospherics employed to keep the tension building, perhaps before shattering the stillness with a piercing howl as in the transition from the end of “Penetrations of Darkness” to the opening notes of “Astral Pandemonium” (which, by the way, features a nice guitar line that nearly weeps). There are also a number of church bells, haunting choirs from the depths and some keyboards that further add to the spiritual dimension of the music as well as highlight the surprisingly great production that leaves plenty of room for everything (including the low end) in the mix without sacrificing a certain rawness that makes everything that much better.
But De Contemplanda… is more than just a bleak listen. It would be unfair to call this mere mood music. Each song is itself a separate movement, a distinct journey into spiritual worlds unknown. There’s a fair amount of repetition, the icy guitars meditating on a mood before shifting gears to continue the journey. But it all feels thought-out and well planned. If the purpose was to create the greatest psychological impact on the listener possible, then Mortuus have done a terrific job with their compositions and riffs to keep the music as engaging as the moods are. “The Illumination of Job”, for example, trudges along at a repetitive funeral procession for most of its duration, but those riffs and that hint of melody are just so good, and so dreary, and so ominous, that I have no problem waiting nearly five minutes for a time change.
There’s not much more to say about this album. I’m very impressed, and though I doubt this will grow to become a classic, I’m already looking forward to the second full-length. De Contemplanda Morte stands out among faster black metal albums for being slower, but more importantly, it also stands out for being excellent and unique.
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