Corpus Diavolis – Atra Lumen (2017) – Review

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Sometimes the vast RMR music database coughs up some gem that we didn’t quite cover when the time was right. You see, we get boatloads of material every day. So, the RMR deck crew may easily just sail past a stellar piece, and only rediscover it much later. And that is why we sometimes reach back in time and cover records that were released a considerable time ago.

So, this week we get it from both sides. First, we just enjoyed the musings of some Heavy Metal raiders who surf the shiny surface of the evil blackened lore of the underworld, complete with those delicious Victorian shudders that go with it.

A spice-laden seance full of symbols and tough talk. Not that this is bad material, their metal is pretty top-notch. But if you want to get a taste of the Lightbringer, well then you need to open that hidden door and penetrate into yonder smelly darkness. And that may mean encounters with things you really don’t want to meet unprepared.

So, this time we dug deep into the fiery pit of the blackest of Black Metal. And out came Corpus Diavolis and their 2017 piece Atra Lumen. Their brand of Vantablack pretty much hits dead-center in the Ritualistic Black Metal department. And it delivers something like Darkend on steroids. A place that the now-defunct Riti Occulti always tried to reach, but never quite succeeded.

Now, the band sports a lot of those elements earlier Rotting Christ already displayed some time ago. Only here, Atra Lumen added a few layers of evil and displays a much darker dimension of that sometimes similar material.

No time is lost to sink Corpus Diavolis‘ dark markers into its unholy ground, and this right from the beginning of Revelations Before Dawn. Which – again – gets reinforced once the excellent The Ardent Jewel of His Presence rasps away. Only, I didn’t quite know what to do with that ghastly CoF1) scream. Did they have Dani Filth stashed away somewhere in the props?

The whole record delivers a solid selection of pretty snazzy Black Metal tracks and none of them really suck. And whilst the starting shot is somewhat subdued, the fat mid-section of Atra Lumen (black light) truly speaks the daemon’s language.

L’Oeil Unique with its blackened fury and Signs Of End Times up the ante even more with those insane riffs and ever-changing soundscapes. All of that goodness always comes away as slightly melodic, but gritty enough to greet any of those dark lords in Black Metal out there in style.

But Wine of The Beast delivers a meaty groove that we didn’t quite expect on an Extreme Metal piece. The notorious die-hards of the blackened lore will probably scream bloody murder. Yet, Corpus Diavolis quite artfully wove a blackened metal net of traditional and more modern elements into their tune. Which – again – keeps the material from growing stale, or – worse – makes it sound like something we already enjoyed before.

Yet, the band doesn’t really go out of its way to provide variation either. To be fair, this is – of course – one of the main issues we have with Extreme Metal. If it’s traditional fare, you’ll get that same, same but different effect. The one that ignites this warm glow in the hearts of the avid fan, but fails to deliver for the rest of the crowd.

Yet, once a band veers off into new territories with more melody or – Loki forbid – non-native style elements, the screaming of those same supporters will be incredibly loud. But Atra Lumen here is still at acceptable levels as Black Metal goes. And whilst there is some repetition going on, I wouldn’t call it monotonous.

That out of the way, I also quite relished Corpus Diavolis‘ knack for storytelling. And this often turns them onto pathways that bands like Carach Angren already visited before. Albeit, it would be a much darker incarnation of the latter. One that risks poking that age-old daemonic bear a few times too often. Which is something this here band seems to enjoy.

In the end, Atra Lumen delivers a piece of Ritualistic Black Metal with some fiery intensity. All of that unholy goodness mostly comes at mid-tempo speeds that often slam a doomy flavor all over the production. Add to that some Death Metal elements and you got yourself a pretty serious and – yes – extreme Black Metal piece. Made by a band that understands its trade with a finely tuned production where rasps and instruments never clash but instead work together to form that blackened, red-hot alloy that we crave.

Ed’s note: What’s better? French Satanic Cult or trve Scandinavian Black Metal. You be the judge. Oh, and the band released a new record, try Apocatastase.

Record Rating: 8/10 | LabelATMF | Web: Official Band Site
Release Date: 6 April 2017


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