Review: Black Altar / Kirkebrann “Deus Inversus” [Odium Records]

Review: Black Altar / Kirkebrann “Deus Inversus” [Odium Records]

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The underground label Odium Records this June has released the split collaboration between two black metal bands – Polish Black Altar and Norwegian Kirkebrann. Both bands already have an experience with split records (and Black Altar collaborated with such big names like Vesania or Varathron). It is named “Deus Inversus”, like the first song of Black Altar. The self-titled track is accompanied by a traditional occult black metal video clip with all its characteristic attributes – rituals, demons and relevant garments (the cover art is in the same manner – canonized demon prepares for a ritual, all in black and white, of course). And despite all these trivial clichés, which were popular 25 years ago, the video turned out to be quite tasty and seriously gloomy.

Black Altar conquered the black metal scene almost 25 years ago, and although they’ve never played a live concert, they’ve earned their name on the extreme underground scene. Black Altar is respected among colleges, on “Deus Inversus” have showed up some famous musicians like Lars Brodderson (ex-Marduk) and Mauser (ex-Vader), also responsible for production. Three years ago, three musicians (guitarist, bassist and drummer) have left the band, now they are successfully replaced (and by Mauser itself on guitar), and fresh blood positively affected the music of Shadow’s brainchild Black Altar. And though there are only three songs on this split record (and one is only a short outro), it is evident, that their skills of making music increased, their material became stronger and more intense.

“Deus Inversus” starts in an occult manner, the song is truly soaked in a ritualistic atmosphere, and epic choruses with Latin lyrics only enhance this effect. Shadow screams with a deliberate force, and by the middle of the song the emotions heat up, but with a choral contrast it gets some sort of symphonic melodiousness (despite the traditional black metal structure and aggressiveness the song doesn’t lack melodic parts). On the song “Ancient Warlust” the choruses are even more melodic with very low vocals, but the song itself is faster. And the Black Altar’s part ends with a medieval tranquil instrumental “Outro”, acoustic and grim.

Kirkebrann plays pure black metal for 15 years, they’ve begun from a basement level noisy black metal, but now their intense and professional music easily attracts such notorious names as Morpheus (ex-Limbonic Art), and there are currently the musicians in their regular line-up from the bands Dødheimsgard or Dimension F3H. So Kirkebrann as well has an honourable image among black metal bands.

The material of Kirkebrann is closer to Swedish black metal wave (Marduk and Pest are among their favourites), than to True Norwegian black metal. The songs with a clear and articulated sound vary from mid to rapid tempo, and the fastest of them is “Begrensa Bevissthet”, which is performed in a black/thrash metal style, and it has very catchy guitar riffs. “Faux Pas” is also based on one more traditional juicy guitar passage, but due to a pure and violent screaming of singer Draug, the black metal spirit isn’t lost. “Et Nederlag” is filled with slow choruses, classic solos and good balance between the drums and bass-guitar, and surprisingly, there’s even a little bit of clean voice. And with the sound of a heartbeat the last instrumental track “Ufødte Klarhet” finishes this record, it is entirely acoustic with an untuned guitar. The song isn’t typical for black metal, it is too melancholic and beautiful with a slight folkish impact.

This split is released on CD, LP as well as digitally, so everyone will be satisfied, it’s always a pleasure to listen two good black metal bands once on one release. This music is straightforward and tough, it doesn’t tolerate any limitations, it just sweeps away everything on its way. And despite the fact, that these two bands aren’t in the public eye, “Deus Inversus” probably will gain an iconic status on the underground black metal scene.

Release date: June 20th, 2020

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About the author

I am into metal music from the school times, started from traditional genres, and now exploring the experimental scene. I'm also interested in modern architecture and contemporary art.

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