Per Aspera Ad Pestilentiam by Délétère

Release date: March 18, 2017
Label: Sepulchral Productions

New record from Quebecois black metal underground, this time an EP by Délétère entitled Per Aspera Ad Pestilentiam. We start with one of those intros, monks singing in Latin, horror filmy clips of whipping and over the top screeches and screams… Yeah alright, all very medievalish and occulty. Can’t we just set the scene with a demonic woodcut on the cover? It’s all a bit overly literal-minded, spelling things out in sound. Charming band logo though, decaying fraktur lettering with the addition of a discarded spine, or is it a sinister sepulchral centipede? Either way, top marks for creepiness! Anyway, on to the actual record….

A rusty but razor sharp knife of a riff plunges in for the first proper track ‘Le Lai de la Vermine’, a great seesawing siren alternation in the frantic fast part, varied in the middle, then added to again with an even more explicit guitar line towards the end. It’s an excellent, nagging balance, mostly wavering between two awkward notes, creating intrigue in the manner of its dramatic tangles and lurches. The vocals are good, a range between the gruff croaking atmosphere and the wailing shouts drowned in the void.

It’s furious and fast, complicated and propulsive black metal, a style in which the defining band of the last few years has to be Mgła (the vocals here are in that vein too). The genius here is starting with simple riffs, but building them to wild complexity without sacrificing the initial hook that grabs you instantly. In a couple of sections there are guitar parts, which just switch back and forth between two notes, but they are developed or built up and out in such a way that they are first gripping and then fascinating in their outworking.

Final track ‘Ordo Regis Caedis’ is the peak, with brilliant dexterity to the guitar parts as the song thunders through ambitious segments with a continual aggressive bite. Black metal tends to either emphasise a relentlessly pounding grim aesthetic, or tries to wrench the most extreme pathological emotional states from sound- here there are certainly elements of both, but my main response to this record is appreciation of the technical skill involved in mastering such complexity.

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