Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Absentia Lunae - Historia Nobis Assentietvr (2009) 80/100.

I don’t seem to be alone in my theory that Italian black metal is seriously lagging behind her fellow European nations. If asked to pinpoint one band that adds a new dimension to the black metal scene from Italy, I’d be hard pressed to find a definitive answer to the question. Italian black metal is in a perplexing state of affairs. We have the occasional good source of material, but an endless stream of average, or misguided acts who do nothing to quash that grain of doubt that the Italian scene is doomed to failure as long as certain other nations are around and have a say in the matter as to who is commanding the scene as a whole. Of course, this doesn’t mean to say that there are no bands in Italy who’re offering a sanctuary from the largely expendable scene that barely even exists in the limelight. Considering Italy’s strength in depth in other genres, like gothic rock and/or metal, I find myself unable to truly believe Italy’s lack of progress in this, a superior force behind the metal scene. There is a huge gap to fill and perhaps bands like Absentia Lunae are now experienced and mature enough to do so with their sophomore effort, entitled ‘Historia Nobis Assentietvr’, which translates in English to ‘History Will Prove Us Right’.

Having retraced my steps recently and delved into the material proposed by the initially impressive debut, Absentia Lunae struck me as a band who still needed work but were, essentially, a diamond in the rough. Looking back at their debut, it’s easy to see where problems might have arisen. The production, for instance, isn’t as clear cut as I once believed. In fact, it can be rather restrictive to a band like Absentia Lunae who’re all about forward thinking and striking the audience with unexpected delights, such as the wonderful presence of the bass, which is performed exquisitely by Sephrenel, a musician who possesses valuable experience in other dark genres, such as blackened funeral doom, with the likes of Arcana Coelestia -- a band who, incidentally, falls into the category of underachievers. However, in a move that strikes me as bold, given the raw edge to Absentia Lunae’s music, they have altered the production for this assault and proved that history doesn’t always prove them right, in a cruel dose of irony.

The production is much cleaner and allows all instrumental aspects to filter through to the sub consciousness and stick there with a lingering quality that makes me reflect back over the material time and again even after having moved on to other pastures. New and improved, songs like ‘There Are Chilling Signs Of An Eternal Farewell’ show the true underlining qualities that have kept me coming back to this marvellous band over and over again. From the very beginning, Absentia Lunae delve into territories that most black metal bands instinctively avoid. The bass is audible and not only that, but it is an integral factor in the majesty that builds up in the atmosphere. Sephrenel is a truly delightful acquisition on the part of Absentia Lunae and he fills the role of bassist superbly by intricately sweeping his bass lines into the movement of the songs and making them important to the listener. The bass provides a melancholic structure to the songs when they’re at their slowest and a experimental tinge at their fastest. A musician like Sephrenel wouldn’t be out of place in a rigid, old school death metal band with a beastly atmospheric presence.

His creative nature works well within the polished production and he single handily provides a new lease of life for the music of the band, which can be a tad one dimensional at times, focusing far too much on a forceful style which wouldn’t be unlike the raw black metal movement in nations like France. However, what this sophomore does more often than the debut is involve aspects that were never really apart of the band and embraces them. For example, the operatic clean vocals. Though sparse, this gives Absentia Lunae a new image and with it, a divinity that was lacking behind the overriding brutality of the debut. There are even some small electronic currents running smoothing beneath the harsh exterior of the façade of the band. MZ, also a member of Arcana Coelestia, provides these sparse moments and gives me the impression that Absentia Lunae are truly bonding together, as a band, and finding their feet in this difficult genre, which can be very unforgiving.

Aside from these aspects, which do tend to dominate my thought processing, not an awful lot has altered from the projection of the band. The guitars are still a stellar aspect, though I suspect Climaxia to perform to the best of her abilities on every occasion, mostly due to her fantastic work on Melencolia Estatica. I don’t find the drumming that agreeable. It tends to stick out and come across as too misshapen and not in keeping with the rest of the instrumentation, but other than this small grievance, I don’t have too many complaints in regards to the way things are and how they come about. The sophomore hasn’t left the same level of bubbling excitement in me, but I consider this a more mature record than I do the debut, so perhaps that is why my feelings are slightly more muted than they previously were. A likeable war machine of a record is the result of a 3 year absence from the public eye and although not much has significantly altered from the debut, I’m still pleased with the direction the band are taking.

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