Absentia Lunae
Historia Nobis Assentietvr

Italy’s Absentia Lunae bills itself as warlike, hateful avant-garde black metal – yeah, that’s a mouthful, but it’s also pretty accurate. Warlike, definitely – especially with Belphegor’s Blastphemer turning in a blistering and surprisingly technical drum performance. Hateful? Absolutely. Vocalist Ildanach rants, sneers and screams as if he’s gripping and slamming the sides of a dictator’s pulpit. As for the avant-garde tag, electronic artist/doomsmith MZ (Arcana Coelestia, Urna) contributes a burbling atmospheric stew of classical music, industrial boiler-room echoes and crackling drone. Pretty much his usual palette, and nothing you haven’t heard before.

Absentia Lunae’s lengthy, blasting compositions also feature a slight progressive bent, though it’s far from the aggressively bizarre work of true avant-garde/black acts like In the Woods or Solefald. A track like “Condemnation of Rationalism,” which is mostly violent, militant black metal – all machine-gun rhythms and simple, discordant chord progressions – does little to earn the avant-garde tag. However, follow-ups like “The Timeless Call” and “In the Sign of Aries” pair their blitzkrieg assault with slightly more melodic riffs and eerie, keening sound effects. “There are Chilling Signs of an Eternal Farewell” is particularly effective, as its martial drumming and oozing, distorted chords – the sound of toxic gas spreading over a battlefield – abruptly breaks formation with multiple time-shifts and haunting clean chants. I also have to call out the strong performance by Sephrenel, whose sinister basslines lurk in the shadows like the puppet-master behind the entire operation.

Although I didn’t get a ton of originality from Historia Nobis Assentietvr – the vocalist is really the most memorable element here – it’s still a high-quality, well-executed release. I think Absentia Lunae could push the progressive element even further next time, and perhaps focus in on a soundscape which is truly unique. Still, fans of dissonant, unsettling atmospheric black metal like Deathspell Omega, The Axis of Perdition or WWTG-era Blut Aus Nord would do well to check this out.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
February 2nd, 2010

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