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I admit being claustrophobic, since an accident that occurred many years ago. I was then stuck under snow for several minutes, unable to breathe. I still have nightmares in which I seem to have been attached and then buried alive. It is a very unpleasant sensation that provokes strong reactions in me.
However, a black metal band has managed to capture this terror and record it. Rarely has an album provided me such a feeling of confinement, waking my innermost fear. Its authors belong to Icelandic band Svartidauði and their crime is called Flesh Cathedral.
This album gives an authentic impression of madness, somewhere between psychosis and dementia. Amalgamating black and doom metal, music found there is overwhelming and deployed on four long songs of more than ten minutes each. This division is, however, useless as the album is a whole, real barbarian maelstrom that plunges listener into chaos.
Band achieves this through several stylistic elements that should be mentioned, such as probably drop-D guitars, a very scary guttural voice and – above all – a phenomenal bass playing. This is the album’s cornerstone and its presence enhances the heavier parts, further increasing the oppression feeling endured by the listener. As for the songs, slow and tortured, they sometimes suddenly accelerate through complex harmonic structures, but also surprisingly melodic. Lyrics – incomprehensible but available on the web – also reflect this lawless thirst for destruction, evoking a world ravaged by his own fault.
I do not know to what extent their island harsh geography have influenced this Reykjavik quartet, but the result is particularly successful. Difficult and demanding, Flesh Cathedral gains power over listenings, its weight crushing increasingly the unwary who dare to listen. This album will probably awake many phobias, like those of your humble host.
Originally written for Métal Obscur.