Lucifugum – ACME Adeptum – 4/5
Once again, I bring you tales of feminine bravery in breaking the mould put forward by the hordes of nightwish clones prevalent. In fact, I don’t think I can think of a better example than the lead vocalist for this black metal band, stabaath. This is a Ukrainian ‘band’ (using the term lightly, as it consists of the vocalist – stabaath - and her husband) who don’t use their music as a gimmick, the atmosphere and tone created is incredibly serious – somehow, you can tell that every word spat at you, growled, every cackle, they mean every word of it. Singing entirely in russian, I couldn’t tell you exactly what that is, yet this doesn’t detract from the end result.
The sound of this album is raw, with low production values and plenty of tremolo riffs making themselves well known in the mix. Utilising dual guitars constantly varying between higher and lower pitches in an erratic fashion, speeding up and slowing down at will, it creates an upbeat cacophony that at no point conflicts with one another. There is also seemingly no bass guitar that I can discern, and this only furthers the unusual tone. High pitched guitar-work, with heavy emphasis on the treble it sounds ‘tinny’ but oddly, it works, rather than sounding like simply bad production, it sounds unusual and unnatural. As though something is out of place, something has gone wrong, and leaves an atmosphere of worry, almost of fear (for lack of a better word) as you have no idea what to expect.
But that only serves as a backdrop for the vocals, which are quite simply superb. Ranging from an almost vomit-like sound, to a witch-like high pitched cackle to a throaty growl that dominates, and even an airy wind-like more subtle tone, the range produced is more than a little impressive, and adds some much needed variety to this band. Even the language works well in their favour, resulting in a hard-edged demonic sound that at times sounds like it might be comprehensible if you had a clue how to speak this ancient dialect. Forget that this is being sung by a woman? She seems to do it with such ease, I at times forgot this was produced by something human, sounding well and truly possessed, more than occasionally does it conjure up images of ‘the exorcist.’ Yet, despite this however, I couldn’t help but find it getting repetitive. The riffs are all fairly similar, the drums vary between blast-beat speed and barely-playing which, whilst succeeding in varying the tempo, isn’t terribly interesting.
This album has created a raw sound that sounds simple without sounding convoluted, or slow and boring. The atmosphere and tone created – particularly through the vocal work – is far better than I usually find. The end result has this as its main focus, playing largely as a whole, with little differentiating between tracks. This is, however, most certainly a prime candidate for displaying just how well a woman can work in extreme metal.
Highlights: Track One, Track Four, Track Six (All the tracks are written in Russian, and hence impossible to list accurately. In fact, they don’t even show up properly)
By T. Bawden