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Peste Umbrarum > Night Canticles of the Ancient Ana'themae > Reviews > Edmund Sackbauer
Peste Umbrarum - Night Canticles of the Ancient Ana'themae

Peste Umbrarum - Night Canticles of the Ancient Ana’themae - 92%

Edmund Sackbauer, August 11th, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, CD, Astral Nightmare Productions (Digipak)

One of my favorite releases from the Astral Nightmare camp has to be the full length debut by Peste Umbrarum. In case you are not familiar with them they are a US based black metal band and “Night Canticles of the Ancient Ana’themae” is their second output in total after an EP in 2018. Each of the five members has gained quite a bit of experience playing in other outfits and so it does not really come as surprise that we are talking about a rock solid piece of classic US black metal. Consisting of five tracks and a running time of nearly 37 minutes this album has the perfect format for a dose of energetic and hateful music.

Compared to most other releases by Astral Nightmare Peste Umbrarum have enhanced their blueprint by a few more unorthodox patterns and ideas, something that can also be seen at the works of other US bands. Slightly dissonant sounding guitar sequences, quite a few tempo and rhythm shifts and elements like chant-like vocals are used to give the music a subtly otherworldy yet very fascinating character. They take their time and the songs are going to reward folks who’ve enough attention span to follow the lengthy passages and carefully crafted build-ups that impress within the overall context. Take for example the great lead harmony appearing in the final third of “Sentinals of Black Ardor” and how it is used to provide the track with a turn into something with a different mood. Moments like this are what make listening to black metal so engrossing and satisfying.

Peste Umbrarum know how to make good use of dark melodies, seemingly teasing them into existence out of the grim haze of the guitars with loving attention to detail. These sit alongside some well-composed riffs and blackened grooves, forming the bulk of the songs with great passion and care. Rich in texture and brooding with sinister, malicious energy, this is a release that asks for patience and undivided attention to fully spread its magic. Don’t be afraid though - at its core this is pretty straight forward black metal mainly built upon the pillars defined by the style’s original heroes. That being said Peste Umbrarum have taken the initial formula and have twisted and turned it to create something being unique enough to deserve its own place among the genre’s greats. While there are enough harsh and straight-forward passages this album is far from blunt brutality with the band always making sure keep the combination of heaviness and ambience intact.

“Night Canticles of the Ancient Ana’themae” is rounded off by a stunning cover and a nice production job. The guitars sound clear and powerful and the drums have enough punch and a natural and organic feel. The music comes across as being very vibrant, and while there is always something going on in the background no detail has been lost in the mix. There is a perfect balance of the grit that should always be present when it comes to black metal and the more fragile side of the music which is necessary to give the guitars enough room to spread their glorious magic. Do yourself a favor and do not sleep on this.