Saturday, March 9, 2013


Sortilegia - Arcane Death Ritual
Ván Records, 2014
Genre: Black Metal

1. Ad Fulgens Portam
2. Per Atrum Ignem
3. Ingrediemur Nocte Noctis
4. Lux Frigoris
5. Mors atra Lunzae
6. Verbum Potentis
7. Limen Tenebrae Lucis

I was pretty impressed with what Sortilegia had done with their rehearsal and I was always looking forward to what a fully produced album would sound like. Given how much I enjoyed the work done with Sylvus, I expected this would be worth getting as well. Sortilegia open their full-length career with the mighty Ván Records who have a lot of very good releases under their belt and "Arcane Death Ritual" certainly fits that mold. The packaging and layout is really beautiful and the open doorway with light shining through reminds me of some of the art from The Ninth Gate movie. Certainly, this draws on occult imagery and is probably far more accurate than what Hollywood produces, but that was my first thought.

Sortilegia, I think, are clearly trying to appeal to the raw and lo-fi fans of Black Metal, because it says the album was recorded onto tape and from there transferred. This, certainly, gives the album a very raw feel, but I can often have a love hate relationship with this style. Even though the recording quality is very much on par with a demo tape feel, they did a good job recording the material as a whole. The vocals might be a little high in the mix, especially when the howling vocals ring out a bit. The music is written to match the production and it is cold and harsh for the entire album. Sortilegia play a sort of droning and contemplative style, with a pacing that tries to put a listener in a particular space. I would liken some of the stylings to Ondskapt's "Draco Sit Mihi Dux" from time to time, but Sortilegia aren't always heading for that haunting style. Instead, they're a bit more straightforward and build more a sense driving the listener into a lulled state. I think this is why I believe if the production value was ever so slightly better it would have enhanced this experience a little more. I do really love the raw style and am not a fan of over produced Black Metal, but there are times when just a push in the production direction can really make your experience feel a lot more full. I think this is the case for the Sortilegia album. They have a very Tenebrae in Perpetuum feel with their writing and lead designs, but a lot of it is heavily buried in the mix. Tenebrae in Perpetuum managed to balance the raw recording style perfectly, which is why they really stood out to me. I almost feel like Sortilegia are too focused on creating a droning sense, rather than creating some riffs that stand out amongst the rest. However, when I can figure out what is happening, I do like a lot of it.

I think this is a strong starting point and I love the Tenebrae in Perpetuum styled influence (if that is actually an influence of theirs...)  and I would be really interested to see where they go with this next. If you're fiend for raw Black Metal, then Sortilegia probably will not let you down, they're clearly a solid band and I do like a lot of what they're doing. With minor improvements I think they would really hit on some really great music.

Sortilegia - Rehearsal MMXII
Self-Released, 2012
Genre: Black Metal

1. Limen Tenebrae Lucis

Unfortunately, I missed out on hearing the demo from 2011 "Pestilent Black Sorcery", so I'm not entirely sure how this band is changing compared to the prior release.  One thing that did interest me about this band is because I saw the guitarist perform with Sylvus and I really loved Sylvus, so seeing her involvement with another project was intriguing.  Even though I attended Messe des Morts where this Rehearsal was sold, my friend is the one who wound up getting a copy and I purchased other items while I was there.  Either way she let me borrow the tape.

This rehearsal tape features only one song and being a rehearsal tape you should not expect pristine quality.  The one major benefit is that this song clocks in at over twelve minutes, so it is definitely worth listening in that regard.  Epic length tracks seem to be the usual form for Sortilegia.  There are touches of the Sylvus style of guitar on the track, but I just feel the song didn't stand out as much as their material.  This may have solely happened due to the fact this was a rehearsal take rather than a studio version.  So, I am definitely curious if my opinion will change if I hear this as a studio version.  The song ranges from vicious raw sounding Black Metal to riffs that have a fairly epic feel to them.  I think the song is actually well arranged and the transition of these elements works quite well, so nothing feels choppy or abrupt in the writing.

Everything is performed very well and you can hear everything well enough to get a great idea of what Sortilegia are trying to do.  The musicians behind the project are also clearly very good and there are riffs that definitely caught my ear in parts.  But this just didn't make me listen with rapt attention like some projects are wont to do.

The booklet isn't pro-printed, but it does have more than just a single panel.  It features lyrics and a picture of the band, which is very cool.  It seems to be copied on a high quality copier though, so it doesn't feel like things really faded as more were printed.  The booklet is single sided though, so turning it over is just white, unfortunately.

In the end, it's worth giving a try as with anything in music and I'm definitely interested to hear how this translates in the studio section.  Alas, I don't have much of an idea since their first demo is surely long gone and perhaps I can at least get a digital rip of it someday.

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