Southern Lord
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Coil
02. Of Sophistry. obsession and Paranoia
03. Conversion
04. Jesus Christ Patricide
05. Death and Dissolution
06. Ego Sum Chaos
07. Asphyxiokenisis

Danger is omnipresent on this mean little bitch; a menacing hooded figure around every corner and the smell of rotting flesh inflaming the nostrils. ORCUSTUS' self-titled effort is morbid, lethal, and black as pitch, just what a black metal album should be, especially a Norwegian black metal album.

Vocalist/guitarist Taipan wrote the music between 2003 and 2007 and the smartly developed arrangements would seem to be demonstrative of the years spent, though the rawness was never smoothed out of the equation. His compositional acumen is buttressed by a star studded BM cast that includes bass work from Infernus (GORGOROTH) and guitarist Tormentor (GORGOROTH) who also contributes bass on "Of Sophistry, Obsession, and Paranoia", as well as drumming by Dirge Rep (GEHENNA, ex-ENSLAVED) who wrote the lyrics. So yes, the resume is an impressive one. Name dropping helps with recognition, but the music is what really does the talking here.

And goddamn, is that music harsh, like sandpaper scrubbing an open wound while sharpened pencils are thrust into both ear canals. Amidst the squalling guitars, bloody-murder screams, and blast 'n hammer rhythms you'll find arrangements that are smartly pieced together to ensure not only maximum sonic impact, but also distinguishing characteristics that separate one track from the next. The shining example is "Of Sophistry, Obsession, and Paranoia", a nine-minute track that bursts forth with a toughness reminiscent of GORGOROTH's patented muscularity. The song is filled with nasty licks and an invocation from Dirge Rep that is heard through what sounds like a plague of locusts. It is a great black metal tune that is as deep as it is hazardous to those of the Christian faith. "Death and Dissolution" scores points for the mammoth, vintage BM groove that gives way to hell-bound descent before the blasting begins again with a renewed sense of vengeance. "Ego Sum Chaos" is notable for its blackened-thrash-meets-DARKTRHONE sickness.

And all through this beast tremulous licks frequently emerge, causing intense trembling by anyone in earshot and giving the album that extra shot of dread. ORCUSTUS makes music that plants serious doubts in the mind of any listener that optimistically thinks that everything will work out in the end. It won't.

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