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Depressive Without Being Depressive. - 70%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 17th, 2010

I first became interested in Permixtio some time before I actually heard their material. Sun & Moon Records were kind enough to supply me with a copy of their 2010 full-length debut, ‘Il Canto dei Sepolcri’. Previous to this, Permixtio have released a number of demos and one split with a fellow Italian band, Propaganda. Having been rather prolific, Sun & Moon Records took up the opportunity to release Permixtio’s debut, a band spearheaded by the presence of Umbra, both a musician and primary vocalist for the band. Umbra, as the previous reviewer has stated, has been quick to distance himself from the depressive/suicidal black metal scene, probably due to the low opinion of it held by many metal fans, including black metal fans, across the globe, despite the fact that it actually still does have a decent following. Umbra claims that there is significantly more depth to Permixtio, a band whose lyrics are all in Latin, which probably makes it ten times cooler already. The lyrical themes, though they tend to deviate from the normal standards of depressive black metal, occasionally do meet in the middle as Permixtio deal a lot with the feelings of isolation from society and a yearning for solitude.

Although Umbra desperately wants to rid this Italian act of any association to the depressive scene, I’m afraid there is no escaping the truth of the matter and that is that Permixtio often inhabit the depressive sound, somewhat akin to how Beatrìk operated on their own debut, ‘Journey Through the End of Life’, an album which clearly seemed to take influence from the likes of Burzum. Although Permixtio’s connection with Burzum isn’t as visible, there probably is still some influence under those darkened soundscapes. Enough certainly to warrant a description of “depressive black metal” being attached to Permixtio. However, I don’t tend to use terms like that in a disparaging manner. It is merely used as a blanket term, helping potential listeners understand what they’re going to be introduced to if they do decide to listen to the said band. Despite Umbra’s eagerness to distance himself and Permixtio from the depressive scene, the sound of the band appears to embrace it. When I received this album, it even had a small selection of bands that Permixtio sound with the two most important references being Beatrìk and the haunting American act Krohm, another band who embrace the black/doom fusion whilst still seeming to bear some resemblance to the depressive sound.

Permixtio, fortunately, aren’t just another sterile act. Italy, whose black metal scene is overpopulated by gothic inspired bands, do have a select number of bands trying desperately to pioneer the depressive sound into the hearts of fans and musicians alike. Apathia, for instance. Although they may be overwhelmed by gothic loving black metal musicians, the depressive scene is growing and, with the accidental help of bands like Permixtio, I can see a rising number of bands sprouting up in this region in the near future. I find it difficult to believe that Umbra, the bands main composer, has tried so hard to distance himself from a scene which seems to be running through his veins. The music on offer here, particularly in terms of atmosphere, is highly melancholic and in every way you’d expect a band of the depressive kind to be formed. The nihilistic approach in lyrics is taken to the extreme by the music itself as the atmosphere, which is almost completely reliant on both the guitars and the vocal display, embraces the slow, melancholic sound which has made the sub-genre what it is. Occasionally, particularly during songs like ‘Egoico Delirio Spirituale’, Permixtio will adopt a bit more of an adventurous personality by integrating clean vocals and acoustics into the mix, but this is an infrequent occurrence.

The use of slow, painful instrumentation alongside sparse but intense rasps is something which a number of bands in the sub-genre tend to do. I hate to harp on about the depressive scene but it’s hard to distance this review from it when the bands main musician claims not to have any affiliation to it when this debut quite clearly sounds like a depressive album, bar the few moments within each of the songs, like ‘Notturne Rievocazioni’ when a more dynamic song structure will begin to take hold of the atmosphere, albeit briefly before it settles back into its highly repetitive, lo-fi stance of depressing, melancholic and sombre mood. The album, although rather hazy in atmosphere given the levels of distortion, is affective in terms of its emotional bearing on the listener. Songs like ‘Trascendenza Mistica’ are particularly good at generating typically depressive riffs a la Krohm in order to drag the previously upbeat listener down with them into the depths of despair. Where albums like this are won and lost is primarily in the presence of the guitar. The bass, although audible throughout the course of the album, isn’t where the album will be a hit. For the most part, the bass follows the riffing of the guitars whenever it goes and, on songs like ‘Rivela a Te Stesso l'Essenza’ it takes up the role as the repetitive aspect whilst the guitars set about introducing more spark.

The bass is merely a sheep, whereas the guitar is the shepherd, leading it to a premature death having suffered too much from negative emotions. The music is very brooding and the atmosphere, for the most part, is almost perfect. The occasional acoustic elements and what appears to be clean, distant vocals (although this could very well be samples, or something entirely different) add a sense of freedom to the song writing, whereas most bands of this type are very rigid in texture and in terms of the song writing, which tends to suffer at the hands of amateurs trying their best to be evocative and emotional. In some ways, Permixtio are a very simplistic band which knows precisely how to get the most out of what they’ve got, which is exactly why this album is far more appealing than most of its type. Although Umbra clearly doesn’t want to be associated with the depressive sub-genre, I feel he should probably embrace it, otherwise his personal dislike for it and seemingly unnoticed attachment to it when it comes to the music itself may very well be his undoing. The expression “do as I say, not as I do” comes to mind in this rather confusing tale of Italian black metal.

Permixtio - Il Canto Dei Sepolcri - 83%

Memnarch, October 20th, 2010

Permixtio come from Italy and upon the back of three demos and a split have released their first full length. I have to say, I'm not too pushed on Italian black metal, from experience most of it tends to be tainted with that nauseous 'gothic' sound which is seemingly so rife in Italian black metal bands. Permixtio thank god, don't sound anything like that.

Umbra, the sole member of the band claims the band are not what is known as 'suicidal black metal' rather they go a lot deeper than that. It's true, to an extent. Yes the lyrics avoid all the pitfalls of typical DSBM, taking up the rather more thought provoking subjects of chaos theory and transcendence in place of juvenile angst about wanting to blow your brains out. Unfortunately as I can't read Latin, the lyrics mean as music to me as Egyptian hieroglyphics. Regardless of Umbra's claims, the music lies firmly rooted in DSBM ground, and the main focal point on this release lies with the atmosphere with which the guitar and vocals help conjure. The music itself for the most part is fairly slow and brooding, with the exception of scattered acoustic passages and slow guitar leads. Vocals are well done, they are sporadic, and are a throaty rasp and work well together with the enigmatic air about the rest of the music.

Apparently Permixtio is Latin for 'chaos'. Slightly misleading as this music is anything but chaotic, more a thick dirge of oppressive black metal with a dense and malign atmosphere. The riffing is ominous and drumming is tight, almost like a dense fog enshrouding the music suffocating you, and with the scathing vocals this release ticks all the right boxes. The title track with it's colossal opening riff and “Egoico Delerio Spirituale” littered with it's unhinged acoustic flutters would be but two of the highlights of this very impressive release.

As for comparisons? I suppose fellow countrymen Beatrik would be apt, as would German band Anti. It isn't forging any new paths, but what Il Canto dei Sepolcri is, is a high standard piece of entrancing, archaic black metal, and if you want DSBM which avoids the cringe-worthy theatrics synonymous with the genre, and is focused on the music and atmosphere, Permixtio are your band.

Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com