Illustratio Per Horribilem Obscuritatem
posted on 2/2008 By:
It’s not often said but black metal is an incredibly diverse genre. Depending on the band or era, this style can make for a frightening, harrowing listening experience, or one that is symphonic, haunting and majestic. Illustratio Per Horribilem Obscuritatem does none of these things unfortunately, and leaves me rather under-whelmed. As far as what part of the black metal spectrum Grima Morstua occupy, it’s the raw, ‘grim’ end we’re talking about here. All major aspects of the music contained on this disc are average at best, and occasionally fall below that. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as there are a few redeeming moments on Illustratio Per Horribilem Obscuritatem, and hopefully Grima Morstua will run with these and leave the clichéd, generic elements of their sound behind.
Musically, the sound of Grima Morstua is presumably meant to come across as raw and brutal but the riffs for a start are weak and uninspiring. The drumming performance fares little better, with the predictable blast-and-rock patterns recalling about a hundred other bands and a few moments of sloppy time-keeping as well. The vocals are a little stronger but are too dominant, to the point where the songs seem to be constructed around the unrelenting high-pitched warbling, and the music an afterthought. As far as production goes, this isn’t the worst I’ve heard by a long shot, but very ordinary nonetheless. It’s raw and minimal, which is probably what the band aimed for.
As for the songs themselves, it’s a mixed bag and unfortunately the few effective moments are by and large overshadowed by the mediocrity of most of the material on Illustratio Per Horribilem Obscuritatem. It’s not all bad though: “For My Vengeance To Rest” features some interesting, discordant riffing which sustains the song for most of its six minutes; “Venenum Sathani” features increased melody in the guitars, combined with a more urgent delivery which works well; and the last few minutes of album closer “Serpent Messiah” feature distorted male chanting and creepy fx which are genuinely unsettling.
If Grima Morstua really wanted to, they could easily take their music in a far more interesting direction than that displayed on Illustratio Per Horribilem Obscuritatem. At the moment the band seems way too comfortable to slot into the neat little pigeonhole of ‘grim’ black metal that far superior bands dug out for them years ago. Just about everything on this release begs to be refined and beefed up, in particular the ferocity and emotional intensity of the music. In the meantime I’d be sticking with those old Mayhem and Darkthrone albums when needing a fix of the real thing.
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