Friends, Romans Countrymen lend me your ears! It’s ancient history time as Belgian band Cult Of Erinyes conceptually dip back into the reign of Tiberius Claudius Nero, Roman Emperor who lived from 42 BC –37 AD. It was a tempestuous era and one that once explored by main-man Corvus led him into a challenging place where his levels of “desperation, frustration and madness [were] raised dangerously.” It’s easy to see why too as this is an album with much going on in it apart from the mere narrative that is interwoven into the tracks. Even as a sample at the start speaks of being raised by wolves sets the scene for the foundation of the Roman Empire you are aware that this is going to be an album that you completely immerse yourself in. There is going to be no quick fix and it is going to be as mysterious as the death of the Emperor himself, who it is believed by many, was smothered to death by his own adoptive grandson and heir Caligula. If you have seen Gore Vidal’s epic film Caligula you will surely remember this and Tiberius’ portrayal by Peter O’ Toole.
Wolves howl and fire crackles as the scene is set on ‘Achaea, 41 B.C.’ The thick bass tones really catch attention and are apparently provided here by guest musician Alex (Kall, Hypothermia, Craft.) There’s serious progressive nuances almost Pink Floyd like drawing into this world before full on burgeoning black swaggers decimate and drive forward into the realms of ‘Nero (Divine Providence).’ Vocals are craggy and rasped as the music slows and are delivered with a dictatorial authority by Mastema and there is danger and drama as things thunder ferociously away, guitars like a thick and virulent swarm. There’s plenty of variation between the composite parts and atmospheres, some gorgeous melodies seep in and maudlin parts of gloom and doom as tracks fill out and twist and turn. There are plenty of progressive parts to lose yourself in on here and much in the way of control rather than an all-out focused assault. There’s sinister guitar lines and bloodthirsty vocals heralding on what one can assume is going to be a very bloody battle on ‘Casus Belli,’ a prelude to war indeed as the musical storm-clouds gather force with guitars solo like a sudden downpour of rain. With ‘Bred For War’ it feels like the slow heft of the musicianship sees the troops amassing and violence overflows. There’s little in the way of mercy here and we are well aware that the Romans were not one for taking prisoners unless it is to set a very bloody example. Surprisingly though the mood lightens with some acoustic guitar textures that are not a million miles from mid era Opeth and these spill over into ‘Loner’ a moody desolate piece which perhaps sees the Emperor reflect on the ruination of his reign. It would certainly be interesting to see the actual lyrics which I am guessing will be in the album booklet for those who pick up the finished copy to peruse. Tempered with violent surges, mania spills in with a clamour that at times reminds of the complexities of recent Mayhem.
Dipping back into the history books ‘Germanicvs’ swathes through Germania spilling blood under Tiberian rule and the guitar’s slash, stab and stalk around the bloody excursion as the bodies stack up with some really morbid sounding melodies and screams of desolation soaking the battlefield. It’s easy to close eyes and literally look over the desolate body strewn plains left in the wake and the atmospheres here are really great at unlocking the imagination. You should have the idea what to expect by now, the clamour of war is strong with this one and so is the painstaking sense of history within it all. If you want an easily fathomable romp into the past you are best sticking off with your throwaway Ex-Deo albums and enjoy them for what they are; here you get the whole picture. Rather than all roads leading to Rome here they travel to final 11 minute epic ‘For Centuries To Come’ This is an album where the listener is invited to really soak up the bloody dust of time and having listened to it every day for the past week it’s one where you are definitely going to find more depth in, on each and every spin. It’s no surprise that it has been 4 years between albums but here Cult Of Erinyes have really come of age. “Ave Imperator, morituri te salutant!”
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)