Semen Datura

With a name like Semen Datura, you’d expect something filthy, depraved and unpleasantly psychedelic. So I was surprised when opener “Fons et Origo” kicked off with the shimmering, punchy tones of Isis or Burst (and no, it had nothing to do with the mention of Origo – I didn’t have the songtitles in front of me). Then again, I also thought this was a US band, playing a unique blend of black metal and post-rock/sludge. Wrong on both counts.

Turns out that the brightness is merely the iridescent glimmer on a pool of pitch-black ichor, and it quickly fades away the deeper you get into Einsamkeit (‘Isolation’). This is the third and apparently final release by these German black metallers, and although I heard Burst’s lurching, prismatic chords a few more times during the album, there are many other overt influences as well.

The most obvious is Deathspell Omega, as tracks like “Unter Bleigrauen Wolkenlasten” and “Mental Outlaw” combine grinding atmospherics, sadistic vocals (rasped entirely in German, which makes them all the more abrasive) and even a subtle, grumbling cello to craft a sound both grand and grisly. Darkthrone pops up a few times as well, most notably in the miserable, subterranean scuttle of the title track.

Other tracks, like “Psychokrieg” and “Marschbefehl” crackle with a lightning pace of tremolo-picked riffs and blastbeats, but also work in some of the black n’ roll sound that Satyricon has been toying with of late. And of course, a band with ‘Datura’ in its name shouldn’t be without any kind of psychedelia; closing tracks “Reike Stadt” and “Arkona” fuse discordant, staccato riffage to stately, flowing passages, which easily calls mid-period Enslaved to mind.

The fact that all of this is rendered with an appropriately dirty production and expert musicianship makes this an easy recommendation for those of you who are blackly inclined. On the downside, it doesn’t always quite hold together as cohesively as it could (just consider that name – those words really don’t fit, despite the nastiness they conjure). All of the various references suggests that the band was still in the process of truly nailing down who they were when they called it quits, which means that the next release could have been truly demented and remarkable. Still, Semen Datura is going out with a take on black metal that’s at times distinctive and convincingly esoteric, which is quite a respectable exit.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
January 11th, 2010


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