Blisteringly melodic maestro Ardraos is back with a third full-length slice of virtuosic violence from his solo project Sühnopfer – an album that not only incorporates melodies adapted from 14th century medieval pieces, but one that took its composer more than five years to craft… and is worth every minute of that wait.
Contributor Ivan Gossage returns to share his considerations on the stunning HIC REGNANT BORBONII MANES. Read on.
It is a bit difficult to describe the full degree of what takes place across the vast and furious sonic landscape that is Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes. The magnitude of musicianship displayed by multi-instrumentalist and sole creator Ardraos defies easy description. Every instrument, every progression, seems to be brought to the forefront simultaneously with a delivery that is so rapid and multifarious, so entangled and tortuous, that the entire work harkens the experience that the cover art depicts: not just observing, but being caught amongst a pitching, shifting and turning murmuration of violent blackened carrion starlings, engaged in frenzied serpentine dance ‘round the morbid column of some ancient medieval spire. Sühnopfer has offered us something that is truly brilliant.
Ultimately, what is harnessed are a number of conflicting elements, gorgeously and dreadfully entwined: the music embodies austere medieval granite… yet shimmers with golden empyrean aristocracy, the sound is gritty and hard… yet so clearly of the air and the heavens, belligerent and ruthless… but brimming with a passionate hyper-melodicism, a catastrophic bombardment of harmonized antipodes which reaches the most epic heights. It is a shockingly flawless display of weightless chaos and choreographed intensity, breathtaking not only for its sheer aesthetic beauty but also because one can scarcely comprehend how such a beautiful maelstrom of orchestrated complexity is possible.
Guitar lead? Yes, there is guitar that is ALWAYS leading, razor-precision riffing that one moment climbs, then skirts to the side, dives, comes at you and shies away, probing and seeking out what is possible amongst the crags and precipices, guitar that thirsts – RAGES – for life, for expression, movement for the sake of insane fucking movement, and the bass guitar is right there alongside it. Drum fills? Yes there is drumming that is ALWAYS filling. Filling every moment with some variation of blasting, here the snare, there the kick, a sudden flurry of high-hat and crash. Not content to simply provide the pillar for this skyward citadel, the full kit is used to plow the progressions forward, unrelentingly driving the song this way and that, pulling the music aloft, releasing it momentarily at the apex, and then plunging it along with the manic fluctuating gallop of a herd that shatters clouds. Neither buried nor overbearing, the vocals overlay the madness as drawn out syllables of snarling black metal scorn and groaning malice portraying robust measures of wrath and contempt, but also an antediluvian dignity and perhaps even a touch of primordial sorrow.
All of that said, let it not be assumed that what occurs is completely disorienting, for over and over melancholic grooves emerge and solid structures are unraveled, almost towards a threshold, at which point the music breaks free once again to explore further limits. The album also graciously bows away from a constant assault. Tranquil moments are dispersed throughout the album to fantastic effect. Brief chanting samples and clean utterances, sudden moments of serene acoustic guitar, simple tribal rhythms… these brief but tasteful interludes provide the listener with an ephemeral respite from the tumultuous pace and, paradoxically, produce an even more pronounced feeling of being again swept away by the inevitable explosion that follows at just the right moment. And one is, quite distinctly, grateful for that exhilarating dynamic rush; so gracious to render one again powerless, so that the spirit may be flung both below upon the ancient stone, and above towards the most pristine summits.
Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes is a masterful force. Submit to Sühnopfer and be carried away.
For fans of, but distinctly unique to: Forteresse, Aorlhac, and Véhémence.
Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes unleashes in full on the 10th of May, under the eternally glorious banner of Debemur Morti Productions. Hails.
Purchase Hic Regnant Borbonii Manes on CD, vinyl or digital from Bandcamp here.
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