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Law of Contagion - Woeful Litanies from the Nether Realms

Law of Contagion
Woeful Litanies from the Nether Realms
by Chris Hawkins at 16 September 2020, 5:16 PM

It is the spirit of independence as handed down through popular culture that drives the character of Satan.  Such a spirit is what drives the bond between the P.O.D. (not the band, the Prince of Darkness) and his faithful minions, Metal fans, particularly, Black Metal musicians.  While I’ll leave the long-ensuing debate between Luciferian Gnostics, classic laveyan Satanists, and supremely wicked Left-Hand Path devotees to these groups, it serves as a useful segue into the subject at hand, a new solo project from Portugal, LAW OF CONTAGION.  Contained within are seven songs to take one back to those magical mid-‘90s.

The second track, “ov Evil,” has a very trance-like sway in the first couple of minutes.  Around 2:30, though, things pick up.  This is familiar territory for long time Black Metal fans with roots firmly planted in the Norwegian Black Metal (MAYHEM, DARKTHRONE, SATYRICON) of the mid-‘90s along with many other bands not hailing from Norway (SAMAEL, DISSECTION, MARDUK).  It is in the latter half where the song really explodes with vitriol-laced, haunting black magic.

Litany,” the third track, builds off the momentum of the previous track while also moving the self-narrative forward as it really peels back another layer.  There are a couple of moments where it sounds like the drum machine is stampeding out of control but switching to another section with a straight-forward double bass pattern cleaned that up.  It is hard to replace the spirit and energy a human being brings to the role of percussionist despite how far technology has advanced.  Once again, it is in the finale where the song truly spreads its wings and, on this occasion,, it is led by an atmospheric melody that eventually transitions to a brutal, close to dissonant ended weakly embraced by the echo of such a preceding melody.

Admittedly, I’d never heard of LAW OF CONTAGION prior to this assignment.  It has a distinct vibe, this raw debut, and overcomes hurdles such as the previously mentioned drum pattern by plodding ever onward.  This is one man too, and as evidenced by the album, a guy with a hefty arsenal of riffs to weaponize and deploy into the never-ending battle for the unlight.  That independent DIY aesthetic lends the album its charm as the listener can hear these songs exactly as the creator intended.

While the production is a bit rough around the edges, it successfully captures the danger of the darkly seductive material.  At times, the riffs tend to have a washing effect, a sonic equivalent to the persistent rhythm of oceanic waves, particularly as felt by one knee-deep in the water.   Multiple guitar parts end up efficiently stacking over top of each other and while the transitions between them can tend to fall short of being precisely smooth, the careful ear will be rewarded with an approach that borrows the counterpoint inherent in Ihsahn’s stately riffs and mixes that with the heavy, raw atmosphere of Varg’s most chilling parts from “Filosofem”.

At then end of the day, this is an album that ended up being a rewarding surprise.  Because of technical glitches, I was only able to open four of the songs.  Of these, I chose the two that certainly set the stage for the rest of the album to cover here.  No, this album is not perfect, but is true Black Metal supposed to be?  Part of the charms of DARKTHRONE is their lo-fi reliance on analog gear and IMMORTAL literally unleashed cluster-fucks of songs overflowing with too many riffs yet, still again, part of the charm.  This is a prodigious beginning for LAW OF CONTAGION and I’m looking forward to the band’s next release.

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

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Heralding the Insane
2. ov Evil
3. Litany
4. Blood Vindication
5. Ancient Obscenities
6. Cult of the Damned
7. Mors Ultima Ratio
Lineup:
Ishkur – Vocals/Instruments
Record Label: Moribund Records
     


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