Ready for a “manifestation of the Chthonic forces of Death and a sonic portal to the Nightside?” Well just as well as that is exactly what we have here courtesy of Ars Magna Umbrae from Poland, the work of D.A Khthōn. It would appear from what I can find out that this is a debut work from Mr Khthōn who handles everything we hear on this recording with the exception of some chants provided by Hekte Zaren and I cannot find any details of him being affiliated to any other bands. That simply makes this work all the more impressive. Call this occult or orthodox black metal, in case you had not already worked that out and be prepared for a heady descent into the abyss.
This is actually an EP containing 7 tracks and spanning a running time of 23 minutes. That might strike as a bit odd as music of this nature generally involves long sprawling tracks. Indeed the first part although far more than a mere intro, containing vocals and full spiralling vortex force of the instrumentation downs tools very quickly and leaves one feeling that this could be a bit fragmentary in focus. Luckily that proves not to be the case as things are much more fully formed and fleshed out in general. Morbid sounding guitar lines remind a bit of recent Mayhem and there is the plummet dropping dissonance of group’s such as Blut Aus Nord and Deathspell Omega forged on tracks such as ‘Against The Light.’ Vocals snarl and retch away with a caustic bite about them, hungry and focussed within the realms of the hefty musical cosmos. This is serious stuff and for a debut by one artist it really does make one sit up and pay attention. At times things lurch in a doom like stumble, slow yet poised for attack. Those chants that were mentioned add another dimension and are incredibly sinister in their ceremonial but not overstated delivery. Some of the underlying melody is striking before the next shredding thrust bursts out and adds a chaotic furrow.
A neat short creepy midway instrumental piece divides the midway point before thick tones and a foggy like cloak of sound billows out and drenches in the atmospheric darkness of the title track. I do like the way that suddenly things drop out to a lone eerie guitar chord (very Mayhem) and then some vocals from Hekte Zaren (Hoarfrost / Hexenwolf / Adaestuo) brings some moribund femininity to this moonlit canvas. ‘Of Thousand Suns’ blazes and swaggers in a bit like Emperor at full pelt and again this impresses in dedication and execution, the shift in tempo very well thought out and making this all far from one-dimensional.
This one hit hard on the very 1st listen and I was more than surprised to discover that it was not the work of a full band. Continued plays have left me hungering for more and hopefully Khthōn can expand upon this striking debut over time to come; I’ll certainly be waiting.
(8/10 Pete Woods)