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‘Illuminatus’ is the second album from occult Polish black metal crew Crepusculum, and a most welcome introduction to the band for yours truly. Forming back in 2003, these guys released a couple of demos, as well as a couple of split albums (with the equally obscure bands Pater Noster and Leichengott), before being signed to Odium Records and releasing their debut album in 2010. Come 2013, and Crepusculum have decided that it’s time to light that black flame once more, summoning the malevolent spirits and subjecting the listener to another maelstrom of musical incantations for the dark one himself.
‘Nox Ritualum’ opens with spine-chilling howls and an eastern acoustic guitar piece, all very calm and movie score like, although more unsettling. I suppose it’s somewhat ‘Exorcist: The Beginning’ in its scene setting – dusty, antediluvian and unhallowed. Naturally, this quiet intro soon gives way for the true opening track ‘The Realm of Condemnation’ which blasts with bloodthirsty guitars, hostile vocals and the expected accompanying drum barrage. There’s plenty of Dissection to be heard in Crepusculum’s sound (particularly in ‘Via Sinistra’ which has nice Nödtveidt styled riffage and licks throughout), made brilliantly vibrant thanks to the stellar production job – the fizzing guitars pop from the speakers and vocals are retched forth with malice. ‘Underneath the Storm-Drenched Land of the Arimoi' is a real blaster, which reminds me of some of Setherial’s faster efforts, or even Watain’s love of spite laced with melody, embracing the hate and keeping that serrated, poisonous edge to the overall attitude of the composition.
The majority of Crepusculum’s riffs are built around haunting melodies, noticeably intertwining and interlacing between each musical passage. Sure there’s a good quantity of the required ‘heads down’ blasting when necessary, but minor key melodic licks are never far away to wrap around your brain like a boa constrictor, crushing it into submission to bury its catchy hooks deep within your memory. Album closer ‘Become Their Tomb’ comes to life with an off-kilter riff which reminds me of modern day Satyricon, all chugging and jarring melodies, before speeding up into a classic Dissection-styled melody filled reverie, and ending on a similarly sombre note to its opening acoustic moments.
Overall, the intent of the performance probably outweighs the body of material here. This is not to say the music is bad, far from it – some of the riffage and hooks they serve up are very special indeed. However, there isn’t much a melodic black metal fan hasn’t already heard before in strictly musical terms. However, when it’s played with such conviction as this, you’d be hard pressed not to be a little sucked in by it. Good stuff.
Originally written for www.avenoctum.com