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Lepra > Oderint Dúm Métuant > Reviews
Lepra - Oderint Dúm Métuant

Unpolished raw dark sinister melancholia - 55%

oneyoudontknow, May 1st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2013, Cassette, Ominous Recordings

Fear? Hate? Do either of these come to mind once the release is over? Oderint dum metuant ("let them hate [me], so long as they fear [me]")[1] would be the title of this release and there is even a track with this phrase. To induce fear would be quite a task for such a thing as music. Especially since Hitchcock's Psycho the aspect of unsettling tunes and melodies along with the moving images is something that has gained more prominence, but even these were unable to create fear on their own. This would be even more true in terms of the aspect of hate, as the listener is generally not forced to listen to a certain type of music. There is always the possibility of escape. How does the title relate to it all, then?

While the release is black metal of some sort, those eight tracks are not of the conventional Darkthrone- or Burzum-inspired stuff and it is not even presented in a consistent version over the length of the album. The last two tracks, or the last track in terms of the seven track edition, have a slightly different sound. Somehow as if these were recorded at a different time and setting and the original set-up could not or should not be created again. Whatever the reasons, it is quite odd that the eponymous piece would break with the majority of the pieces of the album. Was this been done intentionally or by blissful ignorance? Leaving this aspect aside, the music itself is a rather, how to describe this properly, well, it is limited or muted. While at times there is a certain hint towards early Bathory, or Venom, a band like Forgotten Woods or some of the depressive black metal genre can be pointed towards as additional source of inspiration.

Such is the way the album starts, driven by a guitar with little distortion, while another one in the background would take of this other part. Alongside these is a clearly distinguishable bass guitar. Of course the music is not heavy or aggressive. As the production is not spot on it should be noted, which results in a an oddly mix of the elements together. Somehow as if a small piece of the puzzle would be missing at certain points. Some people might ignore this aspect, others don't. To the instruments vocals have been added and they are of the croaking type with a raspy touch and some amount of distortion.

It is black metal all right. No doubt about that. Yet it is presented in such a fashion as to be rather harmonious, melancholic and at times even introverted. Furthermore, it is exceedingly raw and unpolished at times, but this aspect does not have too much of a negative impact on the sound or on how the music is received. While it is reduced in audio component, the tracks do not appear to demand much more. While the cover artwork of the demo release, on which this review is based, might imply a certain depressive undertone, the music itself does not always back this up; the title track can be pointed towards as an expectation, though. Bland Darkthrone worship is also not the case. Rather, Lepra try to meander in a realm of reduced melancholic raw black metal, whose expression lacks a certain amount of clarity, which should not surprise as this would be the band's first demo release. Hence the melodies reach out to rockish facets, which might be described as a dirty version of early Joyless. Add punkish elements to this and stylistic facets from the early black metal scene. The vocals are harsh in their own kind of way, which is due to their sound and the way the lyrics are expressed. Pleasantries should not be expected here.

Oderint dum metuant is not an overtly interesting release and it is not loaded with memorable melodic elements or riffs. This debut output is an amalgam of contrasts and sounds, whose parts are rather able to spark the interest of the listener only at certain moments and not over a longer period of time. At some point there is a nice rockish break, whose conception creates a nice counterpoint to the unpolished sound that dominates the release. In one of the tracks -- Treat Life With Arsenic -- the bass is allowed to present an odd playfulness that comes quite unexpected. Also the minimalism of Må de hata blott de frukta, basically an ambient like instruments with some guitars, confuses, rather than leaving some kind of positive note.

Would a better production make things better or worse? Well to some extent the band would loose an argument in regard to the song-writing. Yet, while the minimalism of Oderint dum metuant has a certain charm, it is not able to have a lasting impact. According to a 2015 Facebook entry of the band, the music had been recorded over ten years ago. Difficult to say whether this changes matters for the good or bad, but it adds some kind of perspective and basis for it all. A mixed bag somehow. Odd music from the underground ...



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucius_Accius
With some added words, which root in the German translation of these expression and which makes it all a bit clearer.

Notes:
Member of the Silver Needle Society and Darkness Victory Orgazm have samples from Apocalypse Now; opening and end.