Dekadent
Veritas

The term ‘cinematic’ gets thrown around a lot these days, as many black, death, and progressive metal acts have become more comfortable with orchestration as a way to add color, texture, or simply grandeur to their sound. It’s not as simple as that, though – you simply can’t layer some heavy Gothic chords atop and expect your music to be suddenly elevated in power or emotional content. At worst, the most baroque attempts come off as merely busy, and those carnival chords almost always wind up sounding comical.

Slovenia’s Dekadent, on the other hand, has truly earned the cinematic tag, not least because their brand of black metal has been crafted with a uniquely majestic melodic sensibility. They also earn it because for the second time now, their album has been written to accompany an actual short film. They did it in 2008 with the stunning and moody The Deliverance of the Fall, and their newest masterpiece, Veritas, is also accompanied by a 22-minute short. More on that in a bit, as I focused on the album first as a complete experience before taking in the film.

When I covered Dekadent’s previous album, 2011’s Venera: Trial and Tribulation, I noted that the band not only strained against the boundaries of what would typically be considered appropriate melodies for black metal, but they also did it in a way that was more complete, and ultimately, more cathartic, than the then-nascent blackgaze sound – a sub-genre that has recently earned a lot more attention and definition thanks to polarizing releases by USBM act Deafheaven, or, in the case of Alcest, elevated and then simply abandoned.

Make no mistake though – this is not a willowy, swoony blackgaze album. Dekadent still forges its own transcendent and triumphant sound, but they also churn in more darkness and chaos than on any of their previous albums – or than any other band which combines fuzzy blackened fury with brightness and positivity. “Of Acceptance and Unchanging” may open with soft, chiming acoustic guitars and dirge-like organs (could easily be something from Porcupine Tree or Brit-pop band Doves), but that’s just the airy prelude to the dense, thunderous scrawl that follows. I’ve never heard Dekadent this brutal or corrosive, reaching Anaal Nathrakh-like levels of black/death malevolence before the melody lifts skyward without sacrificing any heaviness. The addition of Alice in Chains-style croons are also a surprising and effective touch, more subtle than just yanking the mood out of the gloom with soaring, power metal-style cleans.

Follow up “Dead Mountain” sounds most like the band’s sound on Deliverance of the Fall – a blend of black metal and film score. The melody here, riding atop a hammering battery of blastbeats, is sweeping and langorous, rather than hitting you with a blizzard of notes – but the rest of the Veritas is even more aggressive and metallic. Take the lurching, groovy “Pasijon,” the monstrous “Valburga,” or “The Beast Beneath the Skin” – all are more dissonant and destructive than anything the band has done before, but no matter how chaotic their tone and energy, you know they’ll crest again to something brighter. Dynamics are part of this band’s DNA, and you’re always assured of a varied and entertaining experience – I’m amazed this time around to see that the band has been able to do it while pushing their sound even further, darker, and weirder.

“Enervation’s End,” in particular, exemplifies this creative confidence more than anything else on the album. With its whacking percussion, blastbeats, pulsing electronics, and ragged vocals, it’s like something off Emperor’s swan song Prometheus. Sweeping guitar solos have been a part of the band’s sound for years, but there’s a yowling, almost showy 80s rawk bravado to them now, and on “Enervation’s End,” they even take on a Southern, stoner twang at times. Somehow, all of these additions – the Alice in Chains croons, the yowling guitar solos, the strutting basswork, and heavily distorted, almost pig-like squeals – should come off like a band casting about for a identity, but the eclecticism is kept in check by a masterful grasp of dynamics and control. The band’s name is aptly chosen – decadent, but never disjointed.

As for the short film, it’s beautifully shot and crafted, but I found the storyline – about a terminally-ill young man spending his final day with his girlfriend – to be too tentative and far less tragic than it was probably intended to be. Veritas the film is never as emotionally investing or passionate as Veritas the album. It’s also interesting that mastermind Artur Felicijan chose to craft a narrative rather than use imagery and editing to complement his already rich sonic vision. The music is not used as a score per se, but is relegated to the background via the car’s blasting stereo as the couple drives into the woods for their final moments together. It felt incongruous and forced in, which is a shame considering that the album’s bold and wild musical choices always stick their landings.

In any case, I still have immense respect for the drive and vision it took to not only shoot, edit, and produce the film, but also to do it while delivering such an incredible album. It’s not enough that Dekadent sets themselves apart from the rest of the black/death herd by embracing gorgeous and transcendent melody in a genre that’s exclusively focused on dark and destructive energy. With Veritas, they’ve now also gone darker and more metallic than they ever have before, and have become more creatively successful as well. There are few artists out there this assured, ambitious, or invigorating – Enslaved, Blut Aus Nord, and Ihsahn come to mind – so if you are new to Dekadent, prepare to be amazed.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
February 27th, 2015

Comments

  1. Commented by: stiffy

    Oh man I’m liking this. Haven’t heard their name in years.


  2. Commented by: E. Thomas

    These guys are amazing. help them release a physical copy of this great album. http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/veritas


  3. Commented by: gordeth

    I finally got around to hearing this. I still think these guys sound like Devin Townsend playing black metal. Of course, I mean that as a good thing.


Leave a Reply

Privacy notice: When you submit a comment, your creditentials, message and IP address will be logged. A cookie will also be created on your browser with your chosen name and email, so that you do not need to type them again to post a new comment. Your post and details will also go through an automatic spam check via Akismet's servers and maybe held up for further approval. We purge our logs from your meta-data at frequent intervals.

  • Distant - Tyrannotophia
  • Atrophied - Pendulum of Extremes
  • Serpent of Gnosis - As I Drink from the Infinite Well of Inebriation
  • Sathamel - Horror Vacui
  • Embalmer - Embalmed Alive
  • Scardust - Sands of Time
  • Nucleus - Entity
  • Sabaton - The Great War
  • Feradur - Legion
  • No One Gets Out Alive - Die Like the Rest
  • Organectomy - Existential Disconnect
  • Moonlight Haze - De Rerum Natura
  • Darkthrone - Old Star
  • Rendered Helpless - Suffer, Seraphim
  • Embludgeonment - Barn Burner