Monday, 22 November 2010

Siculicidium - Utolsó Vágta az Univerzumban (2009) 75/100.

Romania is a country I’ve never really explored when it comes to black metal, so I had next to no expectations when I first listened to Siculicidium’s 2009 full-length debut, entitled ‘Utolsó Vágta az Univerzumban’. I know the odd band here and there, like Negură Bunget, for example, but the extent of my knowledge on the Romanian scene is very poor. Whenever I tend to hear a band from this region I usually expect one thing from them, if nothing else, and that is to produce a sound steeped in Romanian culture, heritage and history. Bands from this part of the world tend to have a story to tell and it’s usually centered around the Transylvanian historical region in the central part of the country. This region seems to be the perfect inspiration for numerous black metal bands around the world, let alone in Romania itself, including the likes of Negură Bunget, a world renowned band who exclusively write and shape their music around Transylvanian mythology and spirituality. This particular band have shown their allegiance to this type of thing by previously releasing their own homage to Transylvania in the form of some of their earlier works, like ‘Transylvanian Resistance’, for example.

To say that Siculicidium are a surprise package in many ways wouldn’t be doing them justice. On the face of it, Siculicidium are set to be another run-of-the-mill black metal band from a Central/South-eastern European country whose sole aim is to embrace their darkly rich culture and produce a generic sound which couldn’t even compare to the likes of bands like the aforementioned Negură Bunget but that isn’t the case. What little expectations I had of this release were quashed almost instantaneously as the band adopt some unexpected influences. Generally, when it comes to relatively obscure and small scenes such as the one in Romania, the “lesser” known bands tend to shape shift their music so that it sounds almost precisely like the best known band in the country. However, to Siculicidium’s credit, they have not done this. Instead, they take a huge amount of influence from an unexpected source, tapping straight into its veins and leeching from it almost directly. The way in which the production works alongside the guitars is a primary example of how this band capture the greatness of their inspiration.

However, again to Siculicidium’s credit, they have made an attempt to mix things up by changing things around and implementing some fresh ideas into an already wonderful mixture. This now two-piece band take the majority of their influence from the likes of Colombia’s Inquisition. They use a really thick and twisted production to make the release feel like it has a slightly doomier edge to it. The production is key to the success of the album because it knows precisely what to do and when to do it. With this album, timing is everything. As songs like the brilliant ‘Bizonytalan ideák 1-2 - Ellenállás! (Bizonytalan ideák pt. 2)’ highlight, the band don’t allow themselves to fall into the trap of becoming straight laced and monotonous, they mix it up with heavily melodic passages alongside acoustic segments which are devoid of the strange vocal approach, one which reminds me slightly of Attila during his early days with Mayhem. The deep throaty vocals are seemingly chanted more than anything, which fits perfectly in with the image of Transylvania and the darkness that surrounds that entire issue.

The vocal work displayed on ‘Talán (ha hallanám...)’ is typical of Lugosi Béla. His strange, eerie voice works wonders with the dense production and is affectively tied together with the unexpected melodic nature of the band well. I hadn’t expected such a melodic sound from the Romanians but it was a pleasant surprise. The dense production may make certain elements a little inaccessible at times but it works wonders with the melodic side of the band, making sure to maintain a darker edge at all times. The album tends to shift a lot in that sense, from one mood to another with the melodic nature making the atmospheric slightly more uplifted whilst the vocal work and consistent drumming bring it crashing back down to Earth where the occult rules and death is in everyone’s shadow. Much of the material, bar the occasional fast drumming and tremolo riffs, is played at a comfortable mid-pace though certain songs, like ‘Lebomlás, lelassulás’ effortlessly shift between slow, mid and fast paced with the slower passages being excellent integrated into the sound by the usage of acoustics and accompanied passages from the bass, which takes on a much more experimental and individual sound during these slower stages. All in all this surprise package both deceives and delights. I wasn’t expecting much from this album initially, but it has turned out to be rather excellent.

1 comment: