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My last taste of Italians Ars Macabra was back in 2009 when I discovered their 2nd album ‘Hate Induced Trance’ having been sent it for review. I loved their balls out enthusiasm for wanting to play the most angry, blasting black metal on earth – so it was a double thumbs up from me. Having released a popular split album with Cosmic Ekpyrosis in 2011 (which to my annoyance I somehow missed), fast forward to present day and they’ve finally released their third album, ingeniously titled “III”. More of the same? Well, not exactly… read on.
Ars Macabra 2013 is an evolved beast to the one I last remembered. While the band can still blast like a motherfucker, they’ve introduced an eerier side to their repertoire, with a horripilating creepy vibe that only adds to their overall sound. Needless to say, the basis of their sound still relies heavily on their cinderblock heavy machine gun assault, with bombarding drums, hissing venomous guitar work and gutsfucked vocals from the very pits of hell, but their charm is now multi-faceted. Hummingbird wing picked guitar speed makes up the main body of the album, but they’re not afraid to slam on the brakes, slow their rage down and hone it into a grim, gnarled ball of hatred. Their sound is all so thickly coated in grimy tar, sickening and noxious, infecting the album with a grimly disturbing aura. I must give them kudos for breaking out of their early single-minded destructive mould (as much as I loved it, the new found variation only makes me enjoy their sound more). Surprisingly the mix of the album is clear as day, allowing the guitar melodies to shine – so the vibe actually comes from the minor key disharmonies that are so frequently laid bare, slicing like a razor through filth.
I can certainly make loose comparisons with Marduk’s career evolution to Ars Macabra’s works from what I’ve heard thus far of their music. Their ‘Hate Induced Trance’ album was clearly their own ‘Panzer Division Marduk’, whereas this album is their ‘Wormwood’ or ‘Rom 5:12’, filled with atmosphere and with sinister overtones that don’t rely solely on blasting the shit out of you throughout, yet still thoroughly sating your black metal needs. These guys know how to utilize a simplistic lick to maximum effect – with a cold, shimmering tone they can slow down and make the temperature in your room drop a few degrees, before exploding into tremolo picked hell and turning your entire house into a blazing furnace quick smart.
For those on the lookout for some genuine black metal which has a really powerful quality to it, range, atmosphere and the ability to blow your socks off all wrapped into one, you need look no further than Ars Macabra – proudly delivering the filthy black shit since 1998.
Originally written for www.avenoctum.com