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"...and nothing but the darkness" - 100%

Colonel Para Bellum, May 8th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Battlesk'rs Productions (Limited edition, Repress, Digisleeve)

Osculum Infame intrigue the listener throughout the whole album. For a long time they don't become the same "good old" Osculum Infame from the "Dor-nu-Fauglith" era. When in the third song "Kaoïst Serpentis" they gain speed and make attack, it is rather modern black metal with borrowings from death metal. They reminisce of the "roots" at 1:34 only. And then throughout the album they pamper fans of "Dor-nu-Fauglith" barely with rare charity. Only the sixth song "Let There Be Darkness" can be defined as "good old" Osculum Infame, and even then not 100 percent. Teasing a bit with "nostalgia", Osculum Infame desert disappointed worshipers and dash into midtempo darkness or even some kind of dark experiment. That's great.

Yes, I was never a fan of the "Dor-nu-Fauglith" album (1997). After their demos, it was for me like a punch in the stomach. The idolization of "Dor-nu-Fauglith" always put me in a stupor: there's massively more epicism than black metal. Therefore, the "Axis of Blood" album release was a double holiday for me. Well, enough about the past.

So, the album opens with a short gloomy truly ascetic intro "ApokalupVI" – there is nothing superfluous in it, and it sets the tone for the whole album. The next song "Cognitive Perdition of the Insane" sounds like a continuation of the intro – it's a gloomy momentum, an oath to create "darkness, the whole darkness and nothing but the darkness". The composition gradually accelerates, and at 3:40 we get speed, pure aggression. Whether it’s good or bad, such tempo doesn't continue long: Osculum Infame prefer not to (ab)use high-speed passages.

The dominant slow tempo creates a dark and cold atmosphere which is amplified by the vocals. The vocals aren't screaming, though, veritably "black metal-ish". Closer to the low spectrum, however, not so much as to be death metal vocals. The inhuman atmosphere is reinforced by some other techniques too. For example, the guitar feedback is widely used on the album, this high-frequency cacophony generates additional tension, a state of nervous suspense. The fifth song "Absolve Me Not!" reveals this insane "technique" in all its glory.

Concurrently the melodic guitar solos are typical for "Axis of Blood" too, and they don't break the bitter cold of this work by their melodism, because as follows from their content these solos aren't epic vignettes but burial suites. In regards to the solos, special mention should go to the fourth, seventh, eighth and ninth songs. The slow fourth track "My Angel", which begins with the sound of coughing fit (I think that during the recording the singer had a bout of coughing, yes, it happens sometimes, but the dysaesthetic effect was pleasant to the musicians so they decided to keep this accidental "technical problem" for the recording), crams the listener, if I may coin a phrase, with portions of pure evil mixed with these melodic solos. Indeed, these are a regular find.

The seventh "Inner Falling of the Glory of God" opens with an eerie, bone-chilling riff. From 1:51 one of the first-ratest on the album bridges sounds, unfortunately (well, our world is cruel and unfair), this solo doesn't last long. Anyway it followed by a sepulchral sluggish guitar fingerpicking, which comes as little consolation. Perhaps "Inner Falling of the Glory of God" is the best song on the album.

In its turn the eighth song "White Void" begins with a violin part typical of early doom / death metal bands. But at first sight only, in very deed this passage is pure abyss of despair – in the early 90-ies it was not yet reached. Picking up the atmosphere and effect, created by violin, next in line is a melodic and penetrant solo. Also a very impressive song. It suddenly passes into to the ninth "Asphyxiated Light", which also presents one of the best solos. To the joy of fans of "Dor-nu-Fauglith", in this composition you can also hear "good old" Osculum Infame.

And the last eleventh song "Solemn Faith" symbolically begins with a dissonant solo that passes the baton to a lazy guitar fingerpicking. Yes, the fingerpickings on this album are really weird.