Saturday, December 15, 2012

Lux Occulta

Lux Occulta - The Mother and the Enemy
Maquiavel Music, 2001
Genre: Experimental Black Metal

1. Breath In
2. Mother Pandora
3. Architecture
4. Most Arrogant Life Form
5. Yet Another Armageddon
6. Gambit
7. Midnight Crisis
8. Pied Piper
9. Missa Solemnis
10. Breathe Out

I must first state that if you don’t like experimental music then you will not enjoy this album.  If you can’t handle your senses and your mind challenged or you just can’t comprehend masterful musicianship then you will not be able to handle Lux Occulta.  So if you are the type I described above please read no further and pursue a more mindless piece of music.  That said I wish to now attempt to address the sheer brilliance wrought throughout this masterpiece.

In the following review I will first address the lyrical content, which I feel was a driving force on how the music was created.  Then I will try to give the reader a general idea of complexity that the music contains.  I do not believe I could give a complete or fully accurate description, and for this I am sorry, but if the reader is lucky enough to hear this album then I believe they will understand my inability to give a full description of Lux Occulta’s grand design.

I am not certain if Jaroslaw Szubrycht intended for his lyrics to make you think and have such a deep meaning in my eyes, but that is how I interpreted them after reading through them.  Overall the lyrics contain a fairly consistent misanthropic theme, but the approach taken on their presentation is pure genius.  They also seem to have a general philosophical and theological feel to them, which gives the lyrics a deeper insight and makes the reader think more about them.

Starting off with the title of the album, “The Mother and the Enemy.”  This simple title can hold many different meanings to the person.  I have come to the conclusion that the mother is either God or Earth and the enemy is the human race.  Beginning with the first song “Mother Pandora” seems to me to be about creation.  More closely related to Biblical standards in my opinion.  “White headed wisemen decipher your scars/Trying to read between the layers/Hold me tight, break my spine.”  In just these first three lines I get the feeling this song is an interpretation of the Bible and a complaint at a humanity’s ineptness to grasp the overall concept of the book.  For in my opinion the wisemen are undoubtedly priests.  What they are reading is more than likely the Bible, but as the song continues the reader begins to see the contempt and disgust with which the author of the song feels for the human races reliance on a mere book and some moron’s own interpretation.  “Selfish bitch, mother paranoia/Cannot live without your poisonous milk/Cannot live without your lethal caress.”  Rather than the Bible benefit society it seems to be a burden in the eyes of the author.  For the human race seems to be addicted to it in order to lead their lives rather than living on their own.

The next song “Architecture” is the story of human creation in my opinion.  Only it is more of a genetic approach.  “Are we indeed fingerprints of God?/Zero one zero zero one…” these two lines alone pose an incredible question.  One that everyone has a different answer for.  This is just another example of the powerful message these songs possess.  It also continues with the Biblical and misanthropic theme found throughout.  The 01001 bit is clearly a play on binary.  Probably asking the popular question “are we programmed”.  They also bring up Descartes “Cogito ergo, sum” at the end and quickly dismiss it as a waste.

The following song is “Most Arrogant Life Form,” which from a scientific perspective has some of the boldest statements I’ve ever seen.  “That poor old monkey Darwin was wrong/There was no evolution at all/Just the case history/That Syphilitic clown Nietzsche was wrong/There is no Ubermensch at all/All I’ve heard of were Uberworms/That crippled bastard Hawking was wrong/For there is no time at all/The only dimension known to us is fear.”   This verse alone is one of the most powerful verses I’ve ever read anywhere I believe.  In this simple statement the author denounces all scientific knowledge, all philosophical thought and presents the case that everything just is.  I was especially impressed to see the mention of Stephen Hawking’s name in this album for not only is he relatively new, but he deals with some highly complex subjects.  His work with space-time theory is simply ground breaking and not something for the average layman.  However, Stephen Hawking did discover that Black Holes do exist and that within them all boundaries and standards within this universe break down and cease to exist.  I’m going to go out on a limb and assume all my readers have some basic knowledge of Darwin’s evolution theory, though I wish they had said “ape”, not “monkey”.  Maybe this is an intentional error on their part?  Mankind did not evolve from monkeys, we evolved from apes.  For those not aware of Nietzsche let me clarify some points of his mention in this verse.  Nietzsche believes in an Ubermensch or Super-race one could say and it is mentioned throughout his books.  However, Lux Occulta have decided to put this theory aside and say that the human race will never be superior nor has it ever been superior.  I am uncertain as to whether or not the author is denouncing this philosophers and scientists in the name of God or on their own personal findings.  However, he restates his feelings towards the general human race in the last verse.  “The universe is constantly expanding/Yet midgets remain the same/What is above remains above/All is just a matter of scale.”

Now onto one of my absolute favorite songs on this album and not because the music is cool, but because of the lyrical concept underlying it.  “Gambit” is basically a run through of a chess game with God.  An incredible feat one might say, but the author presents the concept in such a way that the Chess board is a battlefield and the players are at war.  The Chess pieces are the warriors and in an ironic twist of fate the pawn checkmates the king in the end.  “Checkmated God/Face to face with a free pawn.”  This shows to me that the human race is trying to free itself from God.  While it may not be a major part of the human race, but there are some which believe God has no purpose on this Earth.  However, the Authors standpoint on this is very cryptic and I cannot get a clear message as to whether he believes in God or not.

Moving on to my truly favorite song on this album “Pied Piper.”  The story of the Pied Piper is a great one in my opinion and Lux Occulta have decided to represent it musically here.  Now this song seems to be a break in the overall theme that is within this album, but I am glad that they decided to put this song on the album for it is truly a masterpiece.  Jaroslaw’s lyrical representation of the song is simply incredible to me.  I would have never read the story and presented it that way lyrically.  I think he is truly a creative person and a superior lyricist that has put many great poets and lyricists to shame within this one album time and again.

The last full song on this album “Missa Solemnis” presents an interesting opening verse and I would say it solidifies my belief that the Author believes in god if not for the rest of the song.  “Yet I believe that all in this world/Is the manifestation of God.”  Now many would say that this confirms their belief in God completely, but I am still skeptical.  For in the close of the song the author states “Call me perfect, call me nine/Sins don’t leave scars/Call me Hell.”  Now this album either shows profound and concrete belief in God and asks what was the point of creating such a despicable race which we humans are.  Either that or the album states that there is nothing worth believing in because everything just is and there is no point asking why.  I do not know which case to be true.  This is simply my interpretation of this astounding lyrical concept and no one man’s interpretation can be completely correct.  For all I know I could be an ignoramus who is reading too deep into things that were not meant to be read into.  Instead the work here just is because the author felt the sudden urge to write such material. 

The album layout is one of the best I have ever seen, mainly because on each page next to the lyrics there is a graphical representation of the song.  This is something I have never seen done before and I am simply impressed with this.  Seriously it’s just an ingenious idea and I’m glad that Lux Occulta were the ones to think of it. 

Now for the part you’ve all been waiting to read and I’m sorry for the wait to read about the music, but I hope some of you have enjoyed reading my in depth approach at this review.  The music unfortunately is very difficult to describe because it is simply incredible.  Any musician will be awestruck by this album and I couldn’t possibly see why someone would say this album is not good.  I would honestly say that the music is mostly Black Metal based, but very experimental that switches up the presentation, thus making it not completely Black Metal.  It is ridden with electronic effects and some industrial influenced parts.  There is also a lot of Jazz throughout the album.  On “Architecture” there is a jazz part right in the middle of the song; it seems that it wouldn’t fit but it honestly does, showing Lux Occulta’s adeptness as musicians.  “Midnight Crisis” is simply just a jazz song with a jazz female vocalist it appears.  Either way it sounds superb and I love all the material throughout.  “Gambit” is a complete industrial song; however, I had one problem with this song.  The vocals are not loud enough and with such incredible lyrics I feel I should be able to get an idea of what the vocalist is saying.  They also used a lot of vocal effects on this song, which I think added to the overall complexity of this song rather than having the complexity lie within the music.  Another song I would like to point out musically is “Pied Piper” which overall is simply impressive.  The closing part of the song is very interesting because rather than let it continue as a metal song it turns into a strange surrealistic industrial classical song.  The vocals at the end are simply eerie with the repeated lines “You will never learn who is Pied Piper.”  I think this was an incredible way to close this epic song.  There are some interesting breaks throughout the album, which are fairly mellow to contrast their incredibly technical metal songs that are expertly written. 

I am sorry my assessment of the music is much shorter than the lyrical outlook, but I felt the lyrics were easier to explain than the music and since one can get an idea of the chaotic and technical aspects in the lyrics.  All I can say is the music complements these lyrics perfectly.  This is truly an album for musicians in the end because any can appreciate this albums sheer complexity.  I hope you have enjoyed this review and I thank you for reading.

Lux Occulta - The Forgotten Arts
Pagan Records, 1995
Genre: Doom Metal/Black Metal

1. Creation
2. Love
3. War
4. Passing Away
5. The Path (You've Chosen)

This is certainly the demo, but I have a feeling they are from the re-release "Maior Arcana", which has the demo remastered.  So the quality of this is probably necessarily good for a demo tape.  Be that as it may, I do want to discuss Lux Occulta's career in order as much as I am able.

I've tagged the genre as "Black Metal" above... but I have mixed feelings about this.  I would not say this is very much of a Black Metal album.  I feel like this is more akin to Doom Metal, but on some aspects this might be a bit fast for Doom... so this is really hard to pin down. I know a lot of places label it as Black Metal, but I think Lux Occulta is doing something a little different from that.

The demo opens with some symphonic keyboards before a think and slow moving guitar picks up to strengthen the composition.  I feel the keyboards are more of the forefront for this demo, they seem to be the part maintaining the melody.  It's a great part of the song though, because "Creation" is instantly a strong song.  Despite the fact that the guitars chug away in the background, I don't seem to get frustrated by this, because the song is quite well composed.  It is certainly very different, but I would say it isn't too far off from the things Paradise Lost were doing.  I think a huge difference is that on some levels Lux Occulta are a great deal darker, but at times very beautiful.  The song "Love" opens with a wonderful flute piece courtesy of Barbara Pizun, which really sets the tone for the emotion behind the piece.  Tinges of Black Metal show up in "Love", but moving on to "War" brings us back into the slow and mid-paced metal.  However, the guitars are more in charge of the melodies this time and the keyboards are further in the background.  Clearly Lux Occulta know how to construct their songs in different ways to give people different feelings and different atmospheres.  This is one of Lux Occulta's strongest points and would carry them through the years quite well.  The vocals stay pretty much within the confines of standard Black and Death Metal styles.  Jaro Slav is a good vocalist and able to switch to the different ranges, but he doesn't blend anything together.  The lower growls and higher are totally separate pieces.

The booklet is fairly strange for an extreme metal release.  Luckily I found some very good scans on discogs.  The flowers laying on the water in the cover are a theme throughout the booklet, not something you'd expect.  Very little of the lyrics seem to have been printed and the band photos are just various pictures of statues.  I assume they are local things in Poland.

I the end I think these songs represent an interesting beginning for Lux Occulta.  Showing that they are going to be blending some strange styles together to create something that isn't really out there right now.  Usually I would say if you like this you should try that etc... but I really can't think of anything off hand that sounded anything like this in 1995.

Here is my favorite song from the demo:

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