LUCTUS / ARGHARUS - Sonitus Caeli Ardentis (split) CD
CD / Ledo Takas Records
Lithuanian Black metal, slipcase CD edition with 16 pages booklet.
Sit down, strap yourself in, press play, get blown away.
This is a split in more ways than one, apart from the obvious, there is the cleaving of the skull that widens the gap between your ears when this disk is let loose, Phantasm-like, to wreak havoc. Both of these groups unleash audio terror upon the listener, it's an unrelenting barrage of Black that will have you dribbling with delight.
LUCTUS slip the leash first and waste no time in sinking fang into flesh, Hell-bound and rapid, their tracks race off leaving a whiff of Death and Thrash lingering in their trail. Full of gallop and blast, the song titles speak for themselves, distinctly war-like, they hold the same allure that tanks and machine guns do to young children. Despite the global nature of this sub-genre, there is a Baltic identity to LUCTUS, thanks of course to the ethnic engraving of the picked lead.
You'll spend much of your time keeping your head below the tracer fire whilst listening to the half dozen denizens of death that this chap barrels out, it's straight between the eyes viciousness but the Thrash influences turn proceedings into a cavalry charge with its attendant adrenaline rush rather than indulging in any fogged grimness. The salvoes of guitar show a clear trajectory, a good eye will see them coming but for most of us, we'll be smithereened before the impact registers. The production prevents any censorship, you will witness the carnage at close hand, it won't be a pretty sight but it will be compelling.
The directness of approach from all the instruments demonstrates a heads on strategy, there are no foils and no pincer movements, the weak fell by the wayside yonks ago, this is a regiment of the battle hardened. It's no good waving a white flag, LUCTUS takes no prisoners.
ARGHARUS may be playing the same game but their plan is more convoluted, they have the fire-power but they also have a psychological warfare division. Rather than all out aggression and constant cannonade, this lot know how to use feints and decoys, there's a bullet with your name on but you don't know when it's coming. This is a purer Black, there is little to no influence from outside, they have their own motif within the sound, a sonic wave that washes over you bringing to mind a temporal shift.
ARGHARUS have acid in their veins and it shows in their music, there's an aspect to the guitar that gives a caustic edge to the surge and that eats at the riffs when they slow enough to allow it to etch. Again the production is strong, definition between the instruments means that the bass rumbles solidly along for all to hear and the drums on this half are more restrained than the pounding provided by LUCTUS. It's clear that ARGHARUS have a more corruptive effect than their compatriot, there is a degree of plotting that ensures that though they aren't as brutal, they are just as effective. Much of their leadwork evokes a primitive evil and the whole ambience of their contribution suggests something of the sinister.
Compositionally, there are changes in dynamics and weight that keep you listening to ARGHARUS, they have a sweep to their sound that lifts you off your feet and widens your panorama. There is a certain seductiveness at play here like the attraction of knives.
Both these bands are more than worth lending your ear to though you might get it back in tatters. Forget your history lessons, when it comes to black gold, go East young man.