Melencolia Estatica - Letum
Black Metal
5 songs (37:26)
Release year: 2008
Reviewed by Goat

After a promising debut in 2006, Italian threesome Melencolia Estatica has built upon its strengths and delivered an impressive follow-up. As before, the band play early Ulver-ish Black Metal steeped in atmosphere, but with some progressive touches that become more obvious each time you listen. Although the band keeps its members’ identities secretive, the guitars and bass seem to be played by a woman – sadly, this is still very rare in the genre and shouldn’t even be mentioned. Whoever she is, she does a fine job, guitars coming over as a series of ambient waves rather than clearly discernable riffs, and the (audible!) bass provides a foreboding backdrop.

What will take newcomers to the band time to absorb is the similarities between the five tracks here (all called Letum and numbered I to V). You’re clearly meant to just relax and let your mind wander as the music plays, and barring some melodic interludes at the start and end of each track (especially Letum I) it differs only in tempo, going from fast to very fast. This is far from Panzer Division Marduk, however – there are plenty of pauses and (dare I use the word?) breakdowns, and it’s in these moments that Melencolia Estatica’s skill as musicians is revealed, especially in the drums. The drums are slightly louder than the guitars, and there are enough variations and trills to keep you listening.

Ultimately, how much you’ll enjoy this depends on you and your tastes in Black Metal. Although Letum doesn’t smash any obvious boundaries, it’s still enjoyable, miserable music from a respectable label that’s about as underground as you can get without things getting ridiculous. I could mention that there are moments which sound like early Katatonia and have the atmospheric punch of Agalloch, but the type of people that will enjoy this don’t need to know that - Melencolia Estatica deserve the support of Black Metal fans everywhere simply for being a good band that clearly isn’t in it for the money. That the music itself is interesting is a bonus…

(samples can be found via link below)

Killing Songs :
Letum I, Letum III, Letum IV
Goat quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Melencolia Estatica that we have reviewed:
Melencolia Estatica - Hel reviewed by Alex and quoted 78 / 100
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