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If Antiquus Scriptum is known for anything, it’s certainly not subtlety. The band has a seemingly constant stream of releases, and an even stronger stream of reissues and re-releases, and when they release a full length, it’s usually quite long. On the band’s third full length album, Conclamatum Est, they continue this trend with a sixteen track album, covering seventy-six minutes of music: granted, the last seven tracks are cover songs, but it’s still an extremely long album.
Conclamatum Est has been reissued at least five times (if you count the dubious/unofficial version by Satanica Productions). I was able to get my hands on the 2015 Pesttanz Klangschmiede version of album, which features the same cover art and tracklisting as the original 2010 version. If you’ve heard any of Antiquus Scriptum’s music before, then you have a good idea of what’s going on here. They bring some kind of progressively-tinged amalgamation of black metal, folk metal, Viking metal and sprinklings of traditional folk music. Led by Sacerdos Magus, Antiquus Scriptum’s music is abrasive and rather harsh, despite the obvious painstaking effort that went into crafting these songs. The (programmed) percussion blasts away frenetically, offering a choppy yet fitting assault.
For the time being, I’m just going to focus on the original half of the album, and I’ll get to the covers eventually. The two things that tend to stick out the most on any Antiquus Scriptum release are the hard hitting yet inventive guitar riffing and the versatile vocals of Sacerdos Magus. When compared with the band’s earlier work, Conclamatum Est takes a while longer to sink in; there’s a lot going on and it’s a densely packed offering. Striking folk melodies are woven throughout the black metal riffing, with a steady barrage of programmed drumming. Sacerdos mixes between a forceful, yet strained shout and midrange chants. While the vocals and drums deserve mention, it’s clearly the riffing that makes this album what it is; charging, layered trem riffing meets melodic licks and bursts of frenetic bursts of heavy handed chords. Despite all of the different things going on, Antiquus Scriptum’s strongest point remains the diverse and engaging song writing. The tracks are lengthy, and require focus, but there is a lot of really cool stuff to dig into.
The back half of the album focuses on cover tracks, done in the Antiquus Scriptum style. Some interesting choices abound, in the form of Psycoma and Mordaça tracks, but the band’s renditions of Celtic Frost’s “Dethroned Emperor”, Venom’s “Manitou” and Slayer’s “Skeletons of Society” brings something that most metalheads could instantly recognize. It’s good to see the band’s influences and all, but the back half really doesn’t hold a candle to the album proper, so I tend to think of it as bonus tracks instead. Regardless, the cover’s are worth at least passing listen.
Coclamatum Est, as a whole, sees Antiquus Scriptum continuing to grow. Top notch songwriting and riffs upon riffs all thrive within the album. While what the band plays is kind of tough to nail down genre-wise, fans of symphonic black metal, folk-laden black metal or just charging, epic metal would do well to dig in. It’s one of those albums that demands a careful listen, as the music sounds rather acerbic and abrasive from the start, but the meticulously crafted melodies and riffs throughout are worth your time.
Written for The Metal Observer.
Holy shit! Why is this not on a professional CD!??! What Sacerdos Magus has created in his Antiquus Scriptum project is something very very original. His extensive history in underground extreme music of many styles has distilled well into this, his rather experimental black metal project. Best be prepared when approaching this music to leave behind preconceptions of what you are expecting from a project with such ornately adorned artwork and a gay-looking, cute-faced band photo. Flowers, unicorns, knights, and castles that plaster his albums and his old Myspace page mask intelligently wicked pagan black metal that is primed not only with a finely cultivated mid 90’s sound, but a head-smashing juvenile sound that one would be more accustomed to find on an 80’s punk record! Antiquus Scriptum’s riffs are so damn catchy and so damn headbanging and glorious. Bands like the ever loved Midnight are not the only ones capable of doing this retro sound with honest to goodness perfection! And in Antiquus Scriptum’s case, Magus’s longtime involvement in old Portuguese grindcore and punk bands have honed in his compositions into rollicking bliss! Mix that traditional aesthetic in with the 90’s European black metal sound and you get damn good music. But then add additional gothic/pagan ambiance, a few folk instruments, and epic length songs…. suddenly you have something outright unheard of and wholly unique!
This is what defines Antiquus Scriptum. This album in particular maintains that individual character. But specifically in this case, a concept album about Portuguese historical themes, Magus focuses in on the mid 90’s black metal facet, though the rollicking still makes its presence known with killer effect such as in the song “Den Nordiske…” as well as in how Magus throws out black metal screeches for punk vocal barking. Each song, including the long ones, has tight and flawless compositions that carry the general mood of the album yet remain richly colored in their own spans. Magus also weaves in the keyboards and acoustic guitars liberally in the proper mid 90’s style and moreso. Plus, there are visits from tin whistles and uilleann pipes as well! Wow….
Now, I am the type who prefers black metal with ambiance from symphonic or folk elements. And to have these things delivered to me with a band that has such a retro and convincing sound that I can yell “FUCK YEAH METAL!” to is delightful and immensely satisfying! God, I find myself regularly returning to this album. Multiple listens do not bother me in the least and never do I get the sensation “yeah this is eh pleasant” or “if they could just have a little more originality.” And once I get a song started, even though I have heard it a lot before, I am still compelled to listen to it all the way through. This CD definitely rises above the rest and it has lead me to uncover and purchase an Antiquus Scriptum shirt and now watch eagle eye for anyone selling any more of his infuriatingly uncommon and poorly pressed albums.
My only complaint that avoids this CD from a straight 100% is the pressing. Original copies came as a CD-R in an actual SLIMLINE jewel case! Not a thin little singles case with a foldout j-card, but an actual slimline. The same shitty things that your CD-Rs from the department store come in. Come on… seriously with as much music as well made as you have put out Magus (and in a thousand different additions), I find it impossible to believe you can’t get a little label to press that baby onto something more permanent than a crappy dubbed tape or a CD-R. Antiquus Scriptum’s music is worth a hell of a lot more than that. Unless people are too stupid to see creative and original metal music these days. Midnight shouldn't have a monopoly on all this retro cred just for blackening old thrash and death albums. Why not old 80’s punk? Or Fimbulwinter? And mid-90’s black metal all rolled into one? Get behind this band people, and Magus, get some professional pressings done and get to writing more fucking songs!
*Important update!!!* 2013 I have learned that the cd-r version I had of this great album was actually a bootleg!!!! However, I am elated to learn that Talheim will release it this year in actual silver print professional CD!! Eternal gratitude to Talheim for their dedication to this brilliant project. Maybe more people will finally give Antiquus Scriptum the attention they deserve!