Ave Maria
Chapter I

Here’s yet another addition to the growing collection of fine but quirky, experimental German black metal. This time in the form of duo ‘A’ (guitars/vocals) and ‘C’ (drums) and their Ave Maria debut, Chapter I.

I don’t have a whole lot of reference points for this act, but it’s safe to say they definitely sound German. Their off kilter brand of black metal is full of weird time changes, strange interludes and chock full of atypical black metal structures and elements. It’s not off the charts bizarre or completely over the top, as there is a ritualistic, steady gait and cohesion to the album, akin to Secrets of the Moon or the new  Klabautamann. But with dashes of vocal eclectics and unpredictable twists and turns, it makes for a challenging, if at times, slightly disjointed album.

Opener “The Trembling Eye” sets the tone with a creepy, minimalist percussive number with ritualistic spoken words before “Coitus Behind Moral Walls” lurches into view with the pace and gait of some multi-limbed, crawling, twisted beast. It’s unsettling but not a total mind rape like say Gnaw Their Tongues, and that’s the M.O of the entire release really. The sermon continues with “Shining Toxic and “The Cloven Psalmody”” more tracks with no discernible pace or structure other than a a few bars of gravelly riffs or beats before another labyrinthine shift. Those looking for frosty tremolo picks or safe atmospherics should definitely look elsewhere. But right when you think the album is going off the deep end completely , “Among Them” delivers a song that has almost the same beat for the whole track, at least percussion wise, and “Impulse From The Sphere Of Broken Larynx” delivers an almost traditional black metal pace albeit with A’s demented vocals. However, the dementia returns for the leering “With Words Like Ecstasy” and more icky, spoken word sermons by way of ‘”Tongues”.

The aptly titled “Meandering Through the Tunnel of Trance” closes out Chapter I with a longer, and still winding, slithery number with a blasting black metal climax. But the whole time, as with the whole album, I can’t help feel that Ave Maria haven’t quite become fully unhinged yet and reached their full potential.There’s a sense of admittedly unbalanced  restraint and holding back, like a straight jacketed metal patient waiting to break free. Its not as fully realized as label mates Saturnian Mist and their Gnostikoi Ha-Shaitan, debut so I wonder if Chapter I was just a glimpse into the the mind of Ave Maria, and I hope that Chapter II unleashes the potential Shining- like forces undulating beneath the surface.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 19th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: stiffy

    I like this.


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