SummaryThe haunting of Monterrey
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When one speaks of mid-paced black metal, there are often a variety of scenes and/or bands that come to mind; think of the Greek trinity, the Czech duo, Switzerland’s Samael and Brazil’s Mystifier. What we have here is a Mexican blackened doom-y occult affair that goes by the name of Argentum – comparable to those aforementioned bands, yet they’re definitely something that stands on its own.
In fact, I’d argue that Ad Interitum Funebrarum falls somewhere between the third Mystifier record and Tiamat’s The Astral Sleep. Still, whereas Mystifier turned into a sinister drama with comedic overtones to it (thanks to those Dr. Strangelove-esque clean vocals) at the time, Argentum avoids that goofy factor to be part of their sound. The Tiamat comparison comes through the tricky style of the album – simply calling it a black/doom metal isn’t exactly saying much, let alone in the context of 1996 and the gothic horror atmosphere, yet Argentum take things to an even more extreme. Keys have rarely sounded ghastlier; always hovering in the background while a foggy guitar tone couldn’t have been more appropriate for this record and unleashes riffs that are actually quite physically firm from time to time. It’s a wonderful contrast and makes even the heaviest tracks such as the Celtic Frost-esque stomp of ’’La Sorella Di Satana’’ or the pre-Kisser Sepultura-esque thrash/death metal mania of “Asstrum Argentum” appear ghastly. At last this guitarist present solos and leads which at their most restrained are reminiscent of again, early Tiamat – yet at their most shred-happy remind me of no one more than Yngwie Malmsteen. It’s one of those aspects that theoretically wouldn’t make a lot of sense, yet practically somehow manages to work.
If the description above already gave you any doubts about Ad Interitum Funebrarum, you’ll probably be even less enthusiastic about its runtime. Indeed, I’m talking about a 77 minute long record here and it’s not hard to imagine that that results into issues at one point. “Ad Posthumum” has its emphasis too much on melodic leads and keys, with only a banger of a riff popping up briefly halfway through. Ending the album on an unfortunate weak note, “Horta Funebra Revise” sounds surprisingly more heroic than spooky – it’s not really a bad song at all, but after so many superb tracks appearing beforehand, it just doesn’t contribute much to the album anymore.
However, Ad Interitum Funebrarum fortunately features enough subtle differences to keep its pacing optimal. “Enter an Ecysted Hibernation” sets the mood for the record and while not a heavy or fast paced track by any means, it makes an excellent opener and works all the way towards that suspenseful climax; by the time those riffs become more tense and the serpent-reptilian hybrid of a vocalist spits out those final lines with ghastly majesty, you know you’ve stumbled upon something unique. Following up with the aforementioned “Asstrum Argentum”, Argentum trick (or treat?) the listener with a blistering solo that at first seems to go on forever, yet it quickly sees the guitarist switch gears by unleashing an impulsive thrash metal riff, turning the song into the most vicious offering of the album. It’s one of those beautiful contrasts between the album’s metallic spirit and haunting ambiance and even at their most sentimental, Argentum refrain from summoning something sappy or over dramatic. “Horta Funebra” starts off with some female vocals speaking over a tender piano line and a classy melodic guitar solo to boot, but here again, the guitarist quickly exchanges these for some Mystifier-esque bend-crushing riffs that spiral through the verses.
Distinct, unique and atmospheric in a sense that I find it hard not to get moved by it, Ad Interitum Funebrarum is definitely one of those albums that would take a while to get used to. For me it took me a while before I were able to set certain tracks apart, but what seemed to be somewhat of an one dimensional experience at first, quickly turned into a diverse, yet cohesive experience for me. The production, too, might be an issue for some, but I like it a lot. This is one of those cases where a rawer/low-fi production works in the favor of what an album demands and I wouldn’t change it if I could and while I’ve heard some later versions of certain tracks with upgraded production values that make them sound more accessible, I’ll gladly stick with these originals. So, do yourself a favor and listen to Ad Interitum Funebrarum. It’s haunting in a way very few albums are.
Release date: May 1996
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