What else can you get out of France apart from great food and leisurely culture trips? ‘Xactly. Black Metal, lots of that. Already the French language presents itself well for satanic messaging, as Rotting Christ already aptly demonstrated1) years back. Then you got those reveling in the most recent massive church burning in France. Or – again – the ritualistic folks from Corpus Diavolis that RMR took a liking to already for their former piece of 2017.
Now, this band won’t necessarily invoke their daemons in French as others do. Instead, they speak in tongues, as the devil should, of course. Their 2021 record Apocatastase is no different. English, Latin, and a few other languages – it’s all there.
And again, this new record truly is for adepts of the traditional Black Metal fare. The band’s ritualistic streak makes Corpus Diavolis walk down Satan Street in a strangely methodical fashion. And this leads to an offering that often majestically strides off into the odorous yonder of the underworld in a similar fashion throughout the record.
But exactly this trait also turned out to be one of the record’s main pillars. The relentless wall of sound that comfortably rumbles across your stomach suddenly develops a subtle menace. At first, you don’t feel it. But then, a sense of unease sets in, an atmosphere of doom lurking in the shadows of the writhing altar and pushed along by the intonations of the master of ceremony. And that is indeed what the RMR adepts of the left-hand path expect from a Black Metal record.
That said, Apocatastase for sure ain’t one of the most accessible of records. But then, I don’t think the folks over at Corpus Diavolis really have the vile mainstream in mind. Instead, they deliver a wealth of tremolo-infested riffs that will just move you along like a curse. Daemonicreator‘s2) expert growls, rasps, and grimy monologues add to that often wicked atmosphere. But the pretty precise drums take that blackened cake. They just thunder along like the dark voice of Hades with astonishingly good precision for a BM piece. In other words, the seemingly similar wall of sound may seem like a simple thing to create and maintain. But it takes that expert contribution that will make it sound just right. So, amongst all of that grime, grit, and sulfurous mist, hides a pretty pristine production brought about by pretty remarkable musical prowess.
Yet by its very structure, Apocatastase does set its blackened sails on a pretty even keel. There’s a pretty distinct lack of hooks to pull folks along, and that’s a true pity. As if the ritual chanting and the occasional monologue would be enough to ensure that folks won’t leave the disk by mid-point. And that sometimes led to the RMR crew’s mutual minds wandering off to other chores, which definitely ain’t the best of news.
But make no mistake. The Black Metal adept will find an awful lot to like on that record with all its accouterments that the satanic lore will deliver to his or her earphones. Apocatastase probably is one of the closest records to the traditional path of Black Metal that crossed our hawse lately. It expertly projects an often clogging occult atmosphere that makes you half expect the Lightbringer to emerge from some dark corner in your abode. A sense of evil and subdued menace that the RMR crew over here mightily enjoyed, despite the relatively meager shortcomings the record may present.