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Traditional BM given a new lease of life - 87%

we hope you die, May 21st, 2020

'Em Lucefecit’ is the third LP from the long running Portuguese black metal outfit known as Grievance. It’s an interesting marriage that lifts influences from the primordial soup of black metal’s heyday and works a surprisingly sophisticated approach to layered melodies atop this barbaric foundation. This strikes at the core contradiction to the works of early Burzum and Darkthrone, and finds its perfect illustration on ‘Em Lucefecit’. Longform narrative progressions are present but suppressed by the overwhelming impetus toward the primitive. It is at once a rejection of metal that is overly reliant on the conveniences of modernity, and a demand that the intellectual bar be raised in terms of the ambition of the compositions themselves. This is music that looks back to a fictional past, a yearning for transcendental, uncorrupted meaning, in a modern existence defined by the transient and the banal. But this expression is channelled through the products of a modern age, the guitar, the amplifier, recording equipment, and so on.

Hence pure black metal’s perverted mastery of this technology into the most deliberately alienating and abrasive of sounds. It despises the very means by which it express itself. This conflict is found at the heart of ‘Em Lucefecit’. It is fundamentally a sophisticated rendering of trance-like, repetitive black metal that is the true heir to Burzum’s ‘Aske’. What at first strikes one as a semi-passable lo-fi black metal offering, gradually unfolds into a complex tapestry of melodies and stories that reveal themselves at an achingly slow but undeniably rewarding pace. Grievance’s approach to layering simple guitar lines in counterpoint, and using this framework to build tension and release as both parts interplay and take turns to dominate the narrative reaches to the true essence of all good black metal. These very common techniques of black metal have found their home here in servicing an artistic expression that is simply not available to other forms of extreme metal. The fluidity and organic essence is formed before our ears.

This harvest, grown from the compost that is the products of a corrupt and artificial modern age, finds its completion in these painfully simple yet intuitive repeated melodies that build the epic narrative arc of this album. This is ultimately what made Burzum’s approach to black metal so innovative. One can spot the similarities and influences he had with other artists of the time, but the finished work seemed to exist in its own universe. The compositions had their own stamp of uniqueness for the simple reason that they did nothing more than tell their own story. ‘Em Lucefefict’ achieves a similar clarity of purpose on this album. The most generic of approaches to the black metal framework is transformed in the right hands into an engaging and purposeful march through repeated refrains that twist and layer on each other, backed by drums that for the most part give the listener a sense of time passing, and only occasionally call attention to themselves with brief fills to add impact at key moments.

The atmosphere and world that this album invites us to inhabit supervenes on these tried and tested building blocks within black metal at its most pure. It’s a reminder of the creative spaces still available to those willing to work at their craft with subtlety and patience, away from the circus and dick swinging of so called experimental or ground-breaking projects that undeservedly dominate the airwaves, and as a result people’s attention.

Originally published at Hate Meditations