Although active since 2000 it took 18 years for Italian band Heruka to get around to debut album Deception’s End. It was an interesting disc with plenty of ideas going on in it not least due to the heady historic narrative structure delving back into ancient Sicily and exploring the ideas of oniric black metal via “epicurean sensations and moods.” What the translated to was feral and aggressive music with an occasional symphonic backbone and some structures that had a medieval feel about them. After such a long period of dormancy it is obvious the group containing ex members of Throne Of Molok and Ars Macabra have hit a bit of a creative peak and it has been just over a year for follow up EP Turning To Dust to surface.
Playing it back to back with the album progression is heard and ideas are expanded on. The intro piece with screams of what sounds like distant battle sets up a grim mood before the title track eases in with feral and hostile rasping vocals and then clattering drumming might and heft. Going off like the clappers we are now in the midst of the aforementioned battle and it’s a tempestuous and brazen one leaving bloody and unbowed. Fitting 8 tracks into just 24 minutes things are kept compact and pretty furious throughout as steel musically clashes and skulls are cracked. ‘Dig Me Out’ does briefly calm tempo down but only for a second before earth is churned and Nekrom barks out his harrowing vocals. Bass definition is not forgotten and sits neatly in the mix meandering through the scathing guitar onslaught and some neo-classical keyboards gives a feeling of romanticism and renaissance beneath the warring tumult. I was pleased that sometimes medieval sounding structures resurface and on Near The Worms Far From The Light the beginning has a lilting accordion like motif before raging away as well as a central section that has a bit of a folk like groove amidst the molten fury. Ever inventive a harpsichord type sound brings melody to Murrain and the band seem to like setting their short songs up with things you might not expect before tearing it up and romping off. They also utilise the poeticism of Charles Baudelaire on ‘Spleen’ and return to the title track with Adranor taking over the vocals to sing in Italian at the finale and somehow seeming to turn it even more bloody sounding in the process.
As with the album this took a few spins to fully grasp but raking through the dusts of time here proved to be a formidable and worthwhile experience. Heruka have again delivered an intriguing and brutal history lesson well worth dipping into.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)