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‘Letum’ is the second record from the mystical and obscure Melencolia Estatica. Recognised by fans as a black metal band led primarily by a woman, who goes by the humorous pseudonym ’Climaxia’, Melencolia Estatica are beginning to establish themselves as one of Italy’s leading black metal acts. I assume there are those who consider Melencolia Estatica to be a depressive black metal band, but regardless of their genre or sub-genre status, these Italians are a well produced, finely tuned black metal band and whilst yes, the lyrical content does appear to deal with realms of human emotions like depression and suicide, Melencolia Estatica are about much more than that. This is a reflection of the negative aspects of human life, which most forms of popular music fail to deal with because of it’s harsh nature.
The female influence of black metal is hardly setting the world alight. In actual fact, there is barely any female influence on black metal. Most people look to bands like Astarte for their fix of female induced black metal, but there are a few ‘underground’ acts who play with the boundaries of black metal by including a prominent female influence, bands like Darkestrah and, of course, Melencolia Estatica for example. Climaxia is different from the rest it would seem. In terms of Melencolia Estatica, she controls both the bass, which is a constant source of splendor throughout and the guitars, which are also superb. This means that musical direction is altered and controlled by her and her alone, which enhances the record tenfold. There are no ‘creative differences’ and no one else to get in the way of what she wants to achieve. Although both the lyrics and the vocals (which are usual typical rasps, although there is some spoken word used) are performed by others, one has no doubts that she must have contributed at least something to the performance of each aspects of the record. Though this cannot be considered the epitome of experimentation, it deals with a fair amount of traditional aspects (heavy double bass and tremolo riffs) which will excite older fans and a modern day styling of especially evocative atmospherics.
‘Letum’ isn’t as profound or outstanding as the self-titled effort, which consists of generally better songs, but it is well produced and constructed in a fashion that doesn’t allow it to disappoint. The material, in a sense, is typical of modern day black metal. There are elements of repetition and monotonous musings, but Melencolia Estatica set their sound apart by using bass as a constant emotional outlet and leaning support for the lead guitar, of which there is only one. Bass is often overpowered and overshadowed by the guitars distortion, which can even overtake the influence of the vocals, but not in this case. Each song is self-titled, but split into five different sections ranging from ‘I’ to ‘V’. Unfortunately, ‘I’ is the most outstanding experience on the record although ‘IV‘ does introduce us to a stunning lead riff that depicts snow capped mountains and blizzards with it‘s tremolo style, using a emotional bass outlet to enhance the soundscapes. This is a disappointment because from there onwards the songs don’t have as much effect on the listener as they did on the first track. Despite this niggling negative, the record is a generally positive experience. The production is clean, which is especially good for the bass, as it likes to control, which plays a major role in depicting the depressive soundscapes and solitude that the record so eagerly awaits. Although I don’t rate this as highly as the self-titled record, it still deserves a lot of praise.