Abhor - Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti
Moribund Cult
Black Metal
9 songs (46:09)
Release year: 2011
Moribund Cult
Reviewed by Charles
Something about this album cover sucks me in immediately. Behold a classic ghostly monochrome, emblazoned with luridly clashing purple and gold: an awkward combination, to be sure, but one which speaks intangibly of cobwebbed curiosity. A genuinely creepy spectral image, set against ghastly ghost train aesthetics; a combination which fits Abhor’s music like a black velvet cape. Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti, the fifth full length from one of Italy’s longest running black metal bands, is a bubbling cauldron of grimy mid-tempo black metal and moustache-twirling synths, suggesting a gloomier take on early Gehenna’s ghostly trudge. But, rather than a sinister accompaniment, the keys here are often placed centre stage, given a free reign to strut across the band’s sound emitting voluminous gothic flourishes. This is a deeply risky decision, given black metal’s track record with gaudy ambient music, and the solo keys that commence album opener Golden Path filled me with some trepidation on the first listen. In actual fact, however, they are generally handled well enough to lend Abhor at worst an endearingly hammy spookiness and at best a sublimely chilling horror atmosphere.

Thus, the album contains some nuggets of esoteric brilliance. A case in point would be the epic Echoes of Desperation and Hate, whose riffs trundle onwards at a beautifully plodding pace, augmented by twinkling and plinking synth sounds which, for all their apparent cheesiness (their heavy use of keys also reminds me of their legendary compatriots, Ecnephias), add a depth of sinister colour to the downbeat groove. And, in fact, midway through the mood shifts from Hammer Horror to something more genuinely unsettling, as the band break down into an interlude in which screeching atonal strings and clanking piano bass tones interlock with cackling sampled vocals: this is proper Lovecraftian madness in the best extreme metal tradition. De Vermiis Mysteriis pulls a similar trick, basing itself around a glowering chromatic bass riff which is sometimes beautifully highlighted by subtle sci-fi synth usage, and at other points given a suffocating tension as the other instruments drop out and those piano notes and squealing vocals crowd again into the sound.

Other highpoints include Scent of Sulphur, another slow number in which the guitars take the lead, languidly oozing out rain-sodden melody in tandem with Ulfhedhnir’s throaty vocal scream. And Seven Magic hands over melodic duties to an odd whistling sound reminiscent of Angst Skvadron, floating bizarrely above a rare passage of blasting. It is Ab Luna Lucenti…’s unhurried approach and the esoteric treasures that lurk within its running order are enough to counter the initial suspicions of hackneyed synth-heavy black metal. For sure, the sound seems to creak at times, particularly where the keys are not backed up sufficiently strongly by the oily guitars, which can sometimes sound a little under-powered. Nonetheless, it packs in enough weird character to make this well worth the time of occult metal voyagers.

Killing Songs :
Echoes of Desperation and Hate, Scent of Sulphur, De Vermiis Mysteriis
Charles quoted 80 / 100
0 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 0 replies to this review. Last one on Mon Aug 08, 2011 11:44 pm
View and Post comments