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The softer stuff of nightmares - 90%

autothrall, November 15th, 2011

Omitir's Old Temple of Depression was one of my choice recordings in the black metal genre in 2009, a slowly moving morass of glorious raw black with synthesizers and snarls in the vein of Summoning or Burzum. Since that time, he's been releasing shorter form EPs with largely experimental concepts behind them, so it makes sense that the sophomore full-length, having now arrived, has a far more avant-garde range of sounds incorporated which admittedly do not often resemble the debut. Cotard instead creates a surreal, noir-ish miasma of styles that fuses lengthy sequences of sheer ambiance and unexpected instrumentation like a saxophone to evoke impressions of a haunting, black and white universe of unassuming gloom.

It's incredibly effective, to say the least, and I believe I might even enjoy this more than the more traditional accoutrements of its predecessor. The ambient pieces are rousing and dark, if minimal, but they flow fluidly into the discord driven black metal sequences ("Fase I - Foco Abrupto") or back out of them ("Face VI - Em Vidro"). I absolutely adore the simplicity of the bass lines, as in "Fase V - Perda" where they pump along sparsely below the twisted, druglike distortion. Omitir (aka Joel Fausto) also incorporates creepy acoustic pianos ("Perda"), unusual and ponderous samples (the intro to "Fase II - Dor Sumbersa"), and dim, folksy acoustic guitar elements ("Fave IV - O Dramaturgo"). The vocals also warrant some mention. It's true that they evoke nothing out of the ordinary, but the rasping is tortured like some sick and starving fuck bewitched by the hallucinogenic flow of the music beneath. Perhaps the most intriguing piece is the closer, "Fase VII - Belle Indifference" which shifts from noise to black surges to acoustic and then to a sultry sampling of the Pixies ("In Heaven").

I was initially worried that the general song length here would be a turnoff. On Old Temple of Depression, only the bookend tracks were of such substantial bulk, but most of these range from 8 to 10 minutes. Thankfully, the dreary, surreal mix up of styles lends each a harrowing and engaging substance from which you just don't want to emerge. The songs do lack a bit of climax, but then they're not really meant for such bold escalations, instead intent on draining all of the color from the listener's experience and casting he or she into a lounge of shadow and regret. It's surely a different experience than the last album, but even more emotionally crushing as it subtly transports you from periods of lightly droning dark ambient swell into the architecture of manic, schizoid black dementia. Cotard is a bad dream that won't quit, depressing and seductive in equal parts, consistently adventurous and far superior to most of the post-black and shoegazer influenced material coming out of the genre. One of Portugal's best kept underground secrets.