When I saw that I had been given a Cuban black metal release for review, I immediately had a mental image of a corpse painted dude chilling out in the sun by a pool with a large cigar……Geographical stereotypes aside, Narbeleth are one of the shining lights of the Cuban black metal underground and ‘Indomitvs’ is their fourth full-length (alongside a demo and an EP). When I say “their”, I should actually say “his” as Narbeleth is a one man act, namely Dakkar who is the driving force and is responsible for all instrumentation making ‘Indomitvs’ all the more impressive.
Things get underway with ‘The Distortion of Life’ which is an aggressive opener and sounds more as though it is from the Scandinavian scene than Central America and I found myself drawing comparisons with bands such as 1349, not least when Dakkar roars “I am Abomination’. ‘When the Sun Has Died’ builds momentum with some beastly riffs and subconsciously triggers the reflex to head bang (one day neurobiologists will discover and study this reflex!) before a visceral ‘The Lower Point of the Star’ ups the ante in terms of vitriol with vocals that sound as though they are being spat out.
‘Herald of the Dawn’ continues the offensive with more raw black metal and it was at this point that I paused for thought and reflected on what a good mix this album has. It is polished without being overproduced and allows for the subtleties of the music to be audible while keeping a raw feel. The pace slows dramatically for ‘The First to Rise’ (at least to start with), but this in no way detracts from the overall effect as this builds to a mighty crescendo.
The opening to ‘Via Profane Crafts’ almost has a black n’ roll feel to it before it launches back into the more familiar venomous assault that continues into ‘Sinister Laberynths of Human Soul’ which has a more epic feel in keeping with the fact it is the longest track on the album, and even has a short acoustic passage which sounded to me as though it had been played on a flamenco guitar (but that is not my area of expertise!!).
The album is brought to a close with ‘Dauđmellin’, a well worked cover of Swedish occult black metal project Arckanum which is a fitting close to proceedings.
This is a gem of an album, following the well used blue print of second wave black metal, but also managing to sound fresh and innovative. At a time when the black metal scene has reached saturation, it is difficult to stand out, and yet a little known one man project from Havana has done just that. Outstanding stuff.
(9/10 Andy Pountney)