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Abhor - Occulta ReligiO

Occulta ReligiO
by Justin "Witty City' Wittenmeier at 28 May 2018, 3:31 AM

ABHOR is a well-established Italian Black Metal band that have a rather traditional atmosphere that is often associated with the genre.  ULFHEDHNIR’s lead vocals are sharp, shrill, and have a bit of a growl to them.  He spits the lyrics out at a moderate, well-paced speed; which is thankful because I really don’t want to hear him screaming nonstop.  The guitars are within the same line, they forgo the nonstop tremolo picking and, often times, are actual riffs with a bit of groove to them.  The drums are more a solid beat keeper than a nonstop hammer machine.  Still, the dirty, evil atmosphere speaks well of the Black Metal bands that came before them.

The production is dirty and gritty but it doesn’t sound like it was recorded on a two track in a truckstop bathroom. However, I think most Black Metal fans, even the purists, will appreciate the rawness of the album’s sound.  The bass guitar and the snare are sometimes lost in the mix, but I suppose crystal clear production wouldn’t really work with their sound.  One aspect of the band works very well and that is LONNERBACH’s keys, which bring a natural and organic sound to them.  This definitely isn’t Symphonic but the keys do add an extra layer of darkness to the band’s sound.

The intro track, “Elemental Conjuring,” opens with some decent riffs and some blackened screams; the subtle use of keys turns the song into an excellent opener. The bass and guitar work well together in “Engraved Formulas,” creating a heavy and almost hypnotic sound.  The midsection of “Exemplum Satanicus,” displays the band throwing in some head banging parts with simple but steady riffs showcasing a powerful rhythm. The album does tend to drag on a bit though.  The run time isn’t overly long but the some of the individual tracks then to play much longer that I feel is needed and I found myself getting slightly bored of it all by the time I made it to the fifth track.

Still, this is an enjoyable Black Metal album but for someone who prefers Blackened band that step outside the confines of the genre, I can’t say it will stick with me for a long time.  However, you really like more traditional Black Metal, with very little elements that would make it in danger of not being close to a true sound, then you will find a solid record here.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 7
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Elemental Conjuring
2. Fons Malorum
3. Engraved Formulas
4. Demons Forged from the Smoke
5. Exemplum Satanicus
6. Black Bat Recalls
7. Occulta Religio
Domine Saevum Gravem – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Backing Vocals
Leonardo Lonnerbach – Esoteric Keys
StorDanu - Drums
Ulfhedhnir – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Kvasir – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Backing Vocals
Record Label: Iron Bonehead Productions


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Edited 05 February 2023

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