It’s been far too long since I’ve been able to sit down, listen to some properly scathing black metal, and come out of it feeling like I’ve actually heard something that left at least a little bit of an impact. I needed something that really knew how to blacken the very spirit by creating something that is no less than scathing in its fiercest moments yet haunting in its calmest. Ars Magna Umbrae wasn’t the name I would’ve guessed to free me from this unfortunate dry spell, but it’s with its second full-length that I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Two years after it’s first full-length album, this is much more of an increase than what I was ever expecting from the likes of Ars Magna Umbrae. That’s not to say the act wasn’t noteworthy before – quite the contrary! – but I simply wasn’t expecting the quality rise as it has here in no less than meteoric fashion. Almost immediately, you can feel the increase with “Apotheosis”. It starts off with an off-putting and haunting piece before busting right into the unrelenting black metal that’s done very suddenly, but Ars Magna Umbrae makes it work spectacularly as we’re given a tremendous mix of raw energy, occult themes, and subtle melodies that tie everything together magnificently. The very energy of “Apotheosis” is all-consuming even in its simplest moments as the whole work grinds forward to cut down one body after another in order to craft a listen that’s really something to lose yourself in as it’s definitely along the lines of thousands of other black metal works out there, but Ars Magna Umbrae has brought them together in such a way that everything plays off the rest beautifully to give this album real life with a real pulse that you can’t help but become addicted to. It strides the line between mind-bending and simplicity at several moments to give the listener a damn special listen that it’s just as satisfying as it is unforgiving to listen to, and if that’s not a sign to the real talent behind the void-spawn that is Ars Magna Umbrae then I don’t know what is.
This is the epitome of one of those occult records that effortlessly burrows its way into your skull such that you’ll be left at work wanting to hear more of its massive presence and undeniable ferocity to the point where you’ll never be able to forget it, and it’s the entirety of “Apotheosis” that’s able to boast such a claim. Ars Magna Umbrae has undoubtedly created something beyond interesting with this sophomore effort, and if it doesn’t allow this act to become an act that’s one of the most well-regarded in the scene then I will be severely disappointed.
“Apotheosis” releases on August 21st via I, Voidhanger Records!
LISTEN to an advanced track from “Apotheosis” on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Ars Magna Umbrae on Facebook here.