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I would never guess that Sardinia is a place where such hateful and austere black metal can be created. But that did actually happen, thanks to few different personas, like MZ, who created several different black metal projects to express his visions. MZ himself composes and performs the music in such bands as Arcana Coelestia, Locus Mortis, Urna – and I mention only those, which I am familiar with. Plus he is also responsible for the music in Absentia Lunae – who knows if it isn’t his most negative and violent creation of all, with a strong sort of militaristic, nihilistic aura around it – which is almost totalitarian when looking at some graphics they use… but that’s fine, I must say that I really like it. Somehow such “image” or let’s just say “vision” reminds me neoclassical projects like Von Thronstahl and even if musically Absentia Lunae hasn’t got much in common with them, then in visual aspects they do.
But hold on! Actually there’s one track on the “Historia Nobis Assentietvr” album, which I am listening to, which can be described as sort of neoclassical industrial ambient... I am talking about “Neuropa Calling” – an opening anthem, which musically is exactly in this style of music. And I really enjoyed it; I love the cold atmosphere which it creates of grimness and majesty. Something similar, but maybe less impressive, can also be found in the closing chapter titled “Il Sole Ritrovato degli Iperborei”… but skip these two songs and it turns out that the rest of “Historia Nobis Assentietvr” (translated to “History Will Prove Us Right”) is more or less, but harsh, extreme and violent black metal. And certainly Absentia Lunae knows what to do to create an interesting sound and music. Generally their black metal is kind of similar to some industrial black metal bands, in some ways we can find here some resemblances to Mysticum, Black Lodge, just to name these two bands, but at the same time “Historia Nobis Assentietvr” tells its own story and follows its own path, with truly relentless and furious, violent music. Sometimes it sounds like a sonic assault; chaotic, raw and vehement like in the song called “Sentenza al Criterio”. The true value of Absentia Lunae doesn’t lay only in playing the most vicious and fast black metal riffs though, but also in an idea to incorporate some different ideas to sound more interesting and diverse… I am not going to talk in details about every song and every single note, which those Italians have played here, but truly I must say that they did manage to create something unique. “Sentenza al Criterio” is just one example, but there are more truly awesome songs here like “Nel Gelido Sentore di Un'eterno Addio (nel Solco della mai Sopita Via)” (I especially like that final part of it, played with marching rhythm… at the same time the atmosphere in it is almost melancholic, so really a lot is going on through the entire nine minutes of this one song) and “L'immutabile Richiamo ed il suo Cruento Incontro”, which even contains some clean sang vocals parts and electronics in the background. So, one can call it more avant-garde sort of black metal band… I don’t really care about such labels. It is good music.
So, my impression in general is very positive – if only we can say about something positive, when dealing with music with such negative message. There’s something intriguing and unique about Absentia Lunae, something what distinguishes this album from the grey majority of black metal releases. But I think this is something more and more common for many Italians bands, as I have similar feelings towards such acts as Spite Extreme Wing, Janvs, Locus Mortis or some other MZ projects. Oh, an extra attention should be given to truly awesome artwork of “Historia Nobis Assentietvr”, filled with great, historical photograps… even the band’s photos are extraordinary. Yeah, certainly I recommend you those Italianos.
Standout tracks: “Nel Gelido Sentore di Un'eterno Addio (nel Solco della mai Sopita Via)”, “L'immutabile Richiamo ed il suo Cruento Incontro”
Final rate: 75/100
I don’t seem to be alone in my theory that Italian black metal is seriously lagging behind her fellow European nations. If asked to pinpoint one band that adds a new dimension to the black metal scene from Italy, I’d be hard pressed to find a definitive answer to the question. Italian black metal is in a perplexing state of affairs. We have the occasional good source of material, but an endless stream of average, or misguided acts who do nothing to quash that grain of doubt that the Italian scene is doomed to failure as long as certain other nations are around and have a say in the matter as to who is commanding the scene as a whole. Of course, this doesn’t mean to say that there are no bands in Italy who’re offering a sanctuary from the largely expendable scene that barely even exists in the limelight. Considering Italy’s strength in depth in other genres, like gothic rock and/or metal, I find myself unable to truly believe Italy’s lack of progress in this, a superior force behind the metal scene. There is a huge gap to fill and perhaps bands like Absentia Lunae are now experienced and mature enough to do so with their sophomore effort, entitled ‘Historia Nobis Assentietvr’, which translates in English to ‘History Will Prove Us Right’.
Having retraced my steps recently and delved into the material proposed by the initially impressive debut, Absentia Lunae struck me as a band who still needed work but were, essentially, a diamond in the rough. Looking back at their debut, it’s easy to see where problems might have arisen. The production, for instance, isn’t as clear cut as I once believed. In fact, it can be rather restrictive to a band like Absentia Lunae who’re all about forward thinking and striking the audience with unexpected delights, such as the wonderful presence of the bass, which is performed exquisitely by Sephrenel, a musician who possesses valuable experience in other dark genres, such as blackened funeral doom, with the likes of Arcana Coelestia -- a band who, incidentally, falls into the category of underachievers. However, in a move that strikes me as bold, given the raw edge to Absentia Lunae’s music, they have altered the production for this assault and proved that history doesn’t always prove them right, in a cruel dose of irony.
The production is much cleaner and allows all instrumental aspects to filter through to the sub consciousness and stick there with a lingering quality that makes me reflect back over the material time and again even after having moved on to other pastures. New and improved, songs like ‘There Are Chilling Signs Of An Eternal Farewell’ show the true underlining qualities that have kept me coming back to this marvellous band over and over again. From the very beginning, Absentia Lunae delve into territories that most black metal bands instinctively avoid. The bass is audible and not only that, but it is an integral factor in the majesty that builds up in the atmosphere. Sephrenel is a truly delightful acquisition on the part of Absentia Lunae and he fills the role of bassist superbly by intricately sweeping his bass lines into the movement of the songs and making them important to the listener. The bass provides a melancholic structure to the songs when they’re at their slowest and a experimental tinge at their fastest. A musician like Sephrenel wouldn’t be out of place in a rigid, old school death metal band with a beastly atmospheric presence.
His creative nature works well within the polished production and he single handily provides a new lease of life for the music of the band, which can be a tad one dimensional at times, focusing far too much on a forceful style which wouldn’t be unlike the raw black metal movement in nations like France. However, what this sophomore does more often than the debut is involve aspects that were never really apart of the band and embraces them. For example, the operatic clean vocals. Though sparse, this gives Absentia Lunae a new image and with it, a divinity that was lacking behind the overriding brutality of the debut. There are even some small electronic currents running smoothing beneath the harsh exterior of the façade of the band. MZ, also a member of Arcana Coelestia, provides these sparse moments and gives me the impression that Absentia Lunae are truly bonding together, as a band, and finding their feet in this difficult genre, which can be very unforgiving.
Aside from these aspects, which do tend to dominate my thought processing, not an awful lot has altered from the projection of the band. The guitars are still a stellar aspect, though I suspect Climaxia to perform to the best of her abilities on every occasion, mostly due to her fantastic work on Melencolia Estatica. I don’t find the drumming that agreeable. It tends to stick out and come across as too misshapen and not in keeping with the rest of the instrumentation, but other than this small grievance, I don’t have too many complaints in regards to the way things are and how they come about. The sophomore hasn’t left the same level of bubbling excitement in me, but I consider this a more mature record than I do the debut, so perhaps that is why my feelings are slightly more muted than they previously were. A likeable war machine of a record is the result of a 3 year absence from the public eye and although not much has significantly altered from the debut, I’m still pleased with the direction the band are taking.