Saturday, September 17, 2011

Review: Luctus - Ad Arma

Luctus provides yet another stellar entry in my catalog of my favorite style of black metal: melodic, ultra-aggressive, riffy, and impassioned. You can lightly count Luctus within the same general fold as bands like Hirilorn, Spite Extreme Wing, Horn of Valere, or Taake- while those bands may not resemble each other point by point, there's a thread of similarity that runs through all of them. Luctus is probably closest to a simplified Taake in execution; the thrash influence is palpable and vies for attention with the more melodic, mournful elements of the music on display, making for an EP that sounds just as much at war with itself as it is the world at large.

Unlike Taake, Luctus likes to keep the thrashier and more melodic elements separated on different tracks. True opener "Bloody Frontline" is straight out of the Niden Div. 187-meets-Slavic style mixed up with a rather Mediterranean sense of melody: lots of blast beats and speedy thrash rhythms bound together by a set of soaring, emotive, melodic tremolo riffs. On the other hand, "Song For the Enemy" brings oldschool Darkthrone to a head with a bit of modern Swedish flair in the riffing for something traditional and thrashy but malevolently scornful. It's really on the last pair of tracks (the longest on the EP) that the band truly finds its own sound.

On these tracks, Luctus embraces a sort of post-Hellenic style, like Macabre Omen with four times the speed and aggression. Patiently unfolding over the course of these long tracks come dynamic rhythmic breaks, tempo shifts, and key changes all designed to make the music that much more vast and narrative. "Children That Will Never More Wake Up" is the clearest gem on this disc, with its magnificently executed, incredibly mournful middle section where doom comes to Lithuania and Luctus releases all the pent-up energy of the previous tracks in a massive burst of emotional extremity. It's powerful stuff, and what the band might lack in immediately appreciable novelty they more than make up for in their sublime songwriting ability and incredibly gripping riffcraft.

This is perhaps simpler than anything else in this field of black metal, but it stands tall among bigger names like Taake and Hirilorn without trouble. This item may be obscure but it's absolutely worthwhile for the hardcore metal collector to track down; I've listened to this probably 30 times and it only gets better with age.

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  1. Comparison to Hirilorn definitely has me interested.

    Speaking of Hirilorn, it puzzles me how underappreciated they are. I'm totally obsessed with their demo (I think it's better than their full-length, actually.) But whenever I bring them up on forums, nobody really seems to give a shit. :(

  2. this is probably closer to the spite extreme wing style of things. imagine a pretty 50/50 blend between slavic and mediterranean styles of melodic black metal with the barest traces of oldschool scandinavian and you have a good idea.