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Feretrum - Sanctuarium - 91%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 17th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Independent (Limited edition)

Hungarian black metal worshippers Feretrum are back with their second full length “Sanctuarium” following up on debut effort “In the Eternal World”. And let me tell you right off the bat: These lads have spent their COVID hiatus well by working on their skills and craftmanship, making this album a significant step-up from their prior work. They have polished their sound as well as the structures of the songs. Don’t get me wrong though, this is still 100 % classic and raw black metal for fans of the old school with no great surprises, but there are some interestingly constructed passages and more depth to the music than one might realize at first glance.

The songs here boil with energy, the vocals are maniacal in their ferocity and the music is exploding from the speakers in traditional fashion. In the end this is what music like the one delivered here is all about, reproducing this special kind of feeling black metal is able to do like no other genre. The riffs soar and surge with the lead guitar offering some melodic themes to give each song its own identity. Feretrum keep switching within different tempo ranges without things ever getting chaotic, often slowing things down in the middle of a song before upping the speed a bit again. They have a nice feeling for mid-tempo grooves, often used as counterpart to the sometimes slightly melancholic lead harmonies.

One aspect I really like about Feretrum and their way to craft black metal is this kind of melodic factor in the music, but not so much at the surface and overly hooky, more subtly woven into the overall sound and on top of the raw chords and rhythms. There are some slower pieces where the bleak guitar sound helps creating an eerie and frosty atmosphere, with some of the harmonies mirroring deeply melancholic feelings. Beside the icy guitar harmonies and the raw and angry vocals it is the songwriting and the overall flow which makes this record such an enjoyable experience. The album consists of six pretty lengthy grim hymns of darkness, and each of those has its very own character. Skipping through the record one might get the impression that all sound a bit samey, and while this is true to a certain extent careful listens will give rise to some great moments.

Feretrum also have gone one step further by exploring a few more unorthodox patterns and have not shied away from implementing some surprise factors like e.g. some female vocals in one of the tracks. One aspect that is very important for them is the build-up of each song and the transitions between various parts. They often take their time to dwell in more ambient moments, but they always come back with the next attack and set of cold riffs and fierce blasts. The howls of the vocals wail mournfully beneath the moving passages, helping to further enhance the unsettling atmosphere. All in all “Sanctuarium” is a very enjoyable album, even more so than its predecessor which is also backed by an improved production. Fans of classic black metal should give Feretrum a listen and chances are you will find a lot to enjoy here. Also special shout-out for the stunning cover artwork!