Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Subvertio Deus

Subvertio Deus - Psalms of Perdition
Satanic Propaganda Records, 2008
Genre: Black Metal

N:C:U/Exitium Productions, 2012

1. Alpha
2. Psalm I
3. Psalm II
4. Theoria
5. Psalm III
6. Psalm IV
7. Omega

I have only recently been exposed to Subvertio Deus (2013) and I'm honestly surprised I missed out on this release when it was first exposed.  Subvertio Deus are playing a style of Black Metal that really connects with me, because when I was starting to grow a bit disinterested in the genre some bands started doing this new thing where they evoking a dark and sinister atmosphere to agree that I can only describe as the audio representation of a "religious experience" or grand revelation.  "Psalms of Perdition" attempts to capture a similar essence in the vein of philosophical realization.

It seems there are very few bands that manage to do this.  Many attempt to do this, I think, but few succeed. Those who succeed only seem to have one good album of this caliber in their creative bodies.  Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" is the only album that Deathspell Omega furnished of this caliber.  Glorior Belli had "O Laudate Dominus", Ondskapt had "Draco Sit Mihi Dux", Sanctus Nex has only one album thus far, Rex Mundi's "IHVH" captured this sound and Mortuus' immense "De Contemplanda Mort" brought one of the finest representations of this sound.  A lot of these bands have only one album of this caliber and I suspect only one will surface of this level of quality and I don't think Subvertio Deus will be any exception to the this.  As said before, many attempt this effort, but few manage to succeed in bringing the listener to full immersion and Subvertio Deus is one of the bands that succeeds.

Musically "Psalms of Perdition" is what you would expect from the above references.  This album stands directly between Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" and Ondskapt's "Draco Sit Mihi Dux".  At least this makes sense geographically since the band is from England!  In any event the guitar work is exceptionally well composed, but I think leans more on the Deathspell Omega side and actually manages to bridge the writing ideas of "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmspice" and their more modern sound.  At least this is very successfully accomplished with "Psalm IV."  The riffing in that song gets more frenetic as the listener journeys and this is sort of the bridge I wish Deathspell Omega had constructed for it's listeners as they evolved.  Most of the songs have this wonderful plodding clean guitar passages that are entirely expected on an Ondskapt release.  The vocal work is, to me, influenced by Glorior Belli and Ondskapt.  Most of the vocal work is similar to what Infestuus performed with a low sort of gutterul growl.  However, when their vocalist launches into these haunting tortured screams it is directly out of the book of "Draco Sit Mihi Dux."  Recall that Ondskapt would never use this kind of vocal performance again on their later releases, leading me to further suggest bands have one album of this quality in them, even if the band goes on to do other great things as well.  This makes for a beautiful and haunting composition that is quite the journey for the listener.  I really can't expound on how well Subvertio Deus pulled this off.

The only real gripe I have with this release is an aspect of the recording quality.  Everything came out very well done, except for the drum production.  You can hear the drums for the most part, but the bass drum is extremely low in the mix.  I also wish they had made an effort to add more reverb to the drum performance.  One thing that stood out about Ondskapt's "Draco Sit Mihi Dux" is how thunderous the drums came across and how well it enhanced the music.  Subvertio Deus would have benefited from this greatly in their recording quality and it would've been especially haunting during the clean guitar passages.  The other very minor thing I would have changed is I would have gotten rid of the solo during "Psalm IV."  I feel it disrupts the listeners train of thought more than it should, but it is the only time this happens so that is only a very minute concern.  The only thing I would have added is during the outro of "Psalm I" I think I would have had the clean guitar switch to a grand piano as it faded out.  This would have been a very interesting dynamic to add only once into the entire recording.

The booklet is exceptionally well designed and is clearly influenced by Deathspell Omega's "Si Monvmentvm Reqvires, Circvmpsice" in format.  Only with Subvertio Deus they took it one step further and added reference and commentary to the lyrics.  It really is like looking at an annotated commentary on a religious work.  It comes across as being highly academic and well referenced, which I found only added appreciation to their work.  Rather than take the usual route of an occult work, they've taken the occult work and provided a sort of commentary.  I think this is a spectacular idea artistically, because it's like taking the seminal work by Deathspell Omega and then having another scholar add in their commentary.  This is very often done with religious works and I love the way it adds to their format and art.

Philosophically I think Subvertio Deus is trying to present a similar concept as what Rex Mundi had in mind philosophically.  This is really backed up by their "artist statement" at the end of the booklet:  "...the purpose of Subvertio Deus was not to propagate any form of Theism or Diabolism, but rather to seek both entities within the self.  By taking ascetic principles and esoteric practices towards pain and taking radical skepticism to logical absurdities; perceptions of reality and self-hood are dissolved and the distinctions of value, meaning and moral judgement collapse without any stones of foundation."  Further in this statement it references this being an "epitaph" for the band and I hope this is not alluding to the project being closed after the single release.  Time will tell with that.

For those entranced by highly philosophical works you will find great merit in this release.  I personally highly recommend it as being beautifully and artfully well done.

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