Are you in the mood for some harsh metal? The mood to face the terrors of the underbelly of the metal multiverse?
If so, take the black door to your left. The one that leads to the square with the blood-red columns, where the cold wastes start and the terrifying winds blow. Those that will chill your soul with their unearthly howling. Just before the gods of the underground spew forth their heated breath to roast it to a crisp.
But have all these records finally found their match in Vitrun from Carpe Noctem? Here’s to 51 minutes of bone-chilling nightmares that will hopefully shed their watery light on that question.
In a way, this brand of Black and Extreme Metal fits well with the origins of Carpe Noctem. The band hails from the cold territory of Iceland, the realm of an uneasy co-existence of fire and ice. An interesting landscape finely attuned to the brand of metal this horde presents. The band came into its unholy existence in 2005. A first full length In Terra Profugus released in 2013, with new material now available on Vitrun.
Carpe Noctem also have this knack for the same shocking dissonance that Geisterfels created so well. Only Vitrun gets the high intensity bonus. For this ability to string seemingly senseless collections of sound together and create an abominable something. Terrifying entities that seem to leap straight out of your darkest nightmares to haunt you silly. And this is exactly what we expect from a record such as this.
And Vitrun heads straight down these dreaded stairs with an epic of almost 11 minutes of length. Hér Hvílir Bölvun at first produces some ambient sounds of some length and I was not quite sure where this was all heading. But then dissonance starts slowly to appear at around minute 2:30. This is where the track lets loose for some totally disturbing madness. Death Metal growl embedded into a mid-tempo, pretty traditional Doom Black Metal roll.
Or is it that really so?
Because – suddenly – straightforward does not exist anymore, and predictable flies out the window. This record morphs into a genuinely disturbing record. Traditional Black Metal switches to the mother of dissonance, the bread-and-butter of Extreme Metal. Carpe Noctem continues to hit this same notch all over again, yet – at the same time – provides some ambient shenanigans at every corner of this journey. Norms out the door, and in comes an uneasily delicious and very unholy jambalaya of confused sounds.
This continues in Og Hofið Fylltist Af Reyk with pseudo solos, where there should be none. And neurotic, repetitive riffs of almost hypnotic qualities. A near psychotic progression installs itself as the album continues on its stony path to damnation.
But if you think they cannot kick this record down a few levels of hell, you are sorely mistaken. Because all hell breaks loose with Sá Sem Slítur Vængi Flugunnar Hefur Náð Hugljómun of the unspeakable name. This is where ambient really meets Extreme Metal with a real vengeance. A blackened something that somehow tries to instill some primeval fears into you. This track fetched a straight 10/10 right there for all its dark prowess.
And on it goes with Vitrun, until any weak flame of hope is brutally extinguished by terrible disharmony that takes over at every corner of this haunted road. Carpe Noctem will continue to add new, disturbing elements into the fray until the record finally peters out.
In the end, Carpe Noctem truly delivers. Vitrun can hold its water over any of the Extreme Metal records yours truly had the unholy pleasure to enjoy. Harsh, unyielding and relentless. A cold and ruthless, extreme record for the metal connoisseur.
But should you – as a non-metal adept – flee this cold place of sorrow? Absolutely not, you shouldn’t. But you need to have the stamina to go deep and stay there. And have a care what you may find.
Vitrun will release on 5 October 2018.
[Editor’s note: The album successfully made it onto the 2018 Top 10 Records list. Congrats!]