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Entartung – Maleficae Artes

Maleficae Artes
by Gary Hernandez at 14 August 2020, 7:18 PM

ENTARTUNG (trans: degeneration) is a Black Metal band from Limberg, Germany. If you want to pin their sound down to an era, your best bet is Second Wave Black Metal. They formed in 2011 and have three full-length albums to their credit, with the fourth, “Maleficae Artes,” recently released on August 7, 2020. Surprisingly, they essentially have had no lineup changes except to add a full-time drummer, Haistulf, in 2017. I have to believe this has helped them to maintain consistency in their sound as well as their vision over the years.

Maleficae Artes” is relatively speaking cleanly produced. If you’re an audiophile, you might miss having a discernable bassline and you may want your percussions a little less muted, but Hard-core Black Metal fans will love the wall of tremolo distortion and the analogue vibe. Thematically, the songs are “devoted to death, the Faustian spirit, ancient rituals and traditions and the darker chapters of human history,” or so say the promo materials . . . but honestly, that pretty much sums it up. I’d add that the Latin title, the multi-linguistic tracks (English, French, Swedish), and the rich artwork (a modified Salvator Rosa painting of King Saul and the Witch of Endor) combine to create a detached, mystical atmosphere. You can call it SWBM if you’d like, but I think it is uniquely ENTARTUNG.

The album spans 41 minutes across five tracks and ends before you want it to. The compositions weave through a craggy labyrinth of chilling riffs and frosty acoustics; and the vocals shift from shrieking wraiths to whispering shadows to baleful chants. Throughout there are pensive melodies that at times kick up to a gallop and at others slow to a dirge. My favorite tracks are “Tower Of Suffering,” “Bortförd” (trans: abducted), and “Circle Of Suffering.” I also enjoyed “Un Ciel Bourbeux Et Noir” (trans: a muddy and black sky), though I expect a lot of listeners may hate it for its subtle timbre. I think it serves as a great mid-point interlude.

I keep waiting to grow out of Black Metal . . . or for it to die and go haunt BURZUM fans, but year after year it not only survives but grows and evolves. Some may say ENTARTUNG, and specifically “Maleficae Artes,” is a return to the 1990’s, but I think it’s more of a recursive intensification. Yeah, a lot of syllables there. In plain English, ENTARTUNG takes the SWBM template and adds modern inferences. Even simpler yet, it cranks.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Tower Of Silence
2. Bortförd
3. Un Ciel Bourbeux Et Noir
4. Circle Of Suffering
5. Aufruhr MDXXV
Lykormas – Guitars
Vulfolaic – Vocals, bass, keyboards
Haistulf – Drums
Record Label: Dunkelheit Produktionen


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