Abhor: Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti

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Abhor: Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti
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Abhor: Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti
Black Metal
Moribund Cult
September 27th, 2011
Release length: 46:48
Website
When it comes to underground Black Metal, one of the most unknown groups apparently is Abhor, which is actually quite surprising since even I heard about this group a long time prior to starting this website. Either way, this Italian Black Metal act formed back in 1995, and while there may not be a good deal of attention or press geared towards this group compared to other acts of this style that stick more to the shadows, they have racked up a good deal of releases in their discography including a live DVD, demo collection compilation, and four full-length releases. For 2011, Abhor signed a deal with Moribund Cult to issue their fifth album, Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti, but will this release be strong enough to give this band the attention they deserve?

First of all, the audio quality to the album is a bit shocking given Moribund’s notariety of more analog and rawer sounding recordings. Instead, Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti does dabble in a little rawness, but for the most part is a modern sounding recording with a nice cleaner, sharp sound. The guitars sound heavy and blunt throughout the entire album with the bass adding a little more dullness to the the bludgeoning surface of the instruments while also adding it’s own layer to the mix at times when it doesn’t necessarily follow the guitars as a back up instrument to make things deeper and richer. The keyboards here are beautiful, having more of a liquid-like sound at times, or come off as a haunting church organ, even a higher pitched sound you’d find in an eighties horror film, all of which pulls off that Italian horror and gothic atmosphere very well, being just loud enough to add that beauty or even a creepy overtone to the music without drowning anything else out. The drum’s bass kicks have a loud thud with a very slight click to it, the snares sound a bit distant but it works for the atmosphere and the dull yet deep and bludgeoning audio of the recording, and the cymbols are pretty loud as well. This gothic atmosphere soaked Black Metal is matched with rhaspy, haunting vocals that match the atmosphere well, coming off haunting and ghastly yet sinister, especially when paired with moments such as the creepy paranormal keyboards you might expect to hear from television series such as The Twilight Zone at the half-way point of “Seven Magic.”

The album starts off showcasing the beauty that it can possess through the keyboards well, starting with that liquid-like keyboard sound to weave a moving passage that one might expect from a well constructed Shakespearean musical or something along those lines, lasting quite a while before the band’s Black Metal tendencies storm in to great a gothic backdrop to haunting music that hits the listener more in an emotional way through a fantastic atmosphere then anything else. This ends up being a superb introduction to the album since there are plenty of songs that feed off the same kind of emotional environments, coming off more as a creepy yet touching artistic expression that doesn’t rely on analog audio to get the point across. But while this track features some rather fast paced music that manages to combine that emotional experience well with a bit more of an aggressive side, much of Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti actually comes off slower and more focused on creating a haunting experience for the listener.

Of these tracks, “Echoes of Desperation and Hate” shines through, not just for the fact that it’s the longest track, but because it’s a well done song that actually gives off shades of a darker gothic-style opera. The keyboards sometimes can go the way of an eery similarity to those from the Halloween film franchise, but it’s slower pace and simpler foundation and performance allows the music to change a bit as it carries on, and a strong focus on that deeper, bass-driven sound quality can easily be found. The only real problem here is the spoken word dialogue that appears later in the song that starts out coming off like a woman pleading before the vocalist starts replying in his sinister voice, greatly overpowering and far from matching that rawer audio sample’s quality. It actually becomes comical, as if listening to a married couple who is possessed or something, which clearly is not what the band was going for with that scene but it simply cannot be helped, especially if you don’t speak Italian. There’s also “Scent of Slaughter” which continues that slower pace, but takes on more of a traditional Black Metal approach to it at times with the keyboards aiding to often set up a strong occult setting with church-like music that appears in some bridges such as the start, really establishing that darker setting to the music that is simply breathtaking.

Aside the bickering mentioned before, there are some other issues to mention, like during “Seven Magic.” Unfortunately, the keyboard on this track can really become annoying. The focus here goes between the more liquid-like piano sound into the aforementioned creepier sound. However, some of the track has a higher pitched organ type of performance that gets to be a bit too much and can easily give the listener a headache. But if you can sit through it, there is some fantastic, creepy as hell material coming just after the half way mark of the song that lasts for quite a while before going back into the operatic higher pitched keyboard sound, which should be a little more tolerable due to that break. There’s also the closing track “Aura Ignis Aqua Tellus” which is a slower, softer track with acoustic guitars and a wind effect that has the rhaspier vocals against it. Due to how light the music is, it doesn’t hide the faults in the vocals at all or make them the least bit haunting, which gives this performance more of a painful yet hilarious sound to it due to how illfitting those vocals sound, and how much it seems like they might hurt to do.

Honestly, even with those faults, there’s plenty of great tracks here worth checking out. “Golden Path” is a fantastic track that does blend both the gothic beauty and faster intensity of the band well, which is sadly never really ouched on again for some reason. “Hearing Without Fear” is another slower track, but much richer musically, as well as aggressive, all giving a more melancholic sound to the mix that works well to capture the cold environment that it gives off from start to finish. These are just two additional tracks worth mentioning to go with the other stand out tracks mentioned earlier, all being good reasons to pick up this album. Even “Wind Between Fingers” with it’s not-as-rich sound that focuses more on a traditional second wave Black Metal sound, though this song won’t really end up holding it’s group past a few listens due to how less unique it feels against the rest of the album, though the keyboards do save it some of the time.

Overall, despite some of it’s small performance faults and the comical moments, Abhor put together a wonderful, atmosphere driven album that plays on the listener’s emotions, creating a truly engaging Black Metal effort that is not afraid to go through more beautiful, gothic, or melancholic tendencies. This gives the album a far more genuinely artistic sound that provides an additional layer to the band’s sound you can’t help but get wrapped up in. Ab Luna Lucenti, Ab Noctua Protecti makes for another solid release from Abhor, and one that fans are sure to enjoy, and one those who have yet to experience this band should take the time out to experience some of the material here at least once.

01. Golden Path – 6:21
02. Hearing Without Fear – 5:53
03. Echoes of Desperation and Hate – 8:45
04. Paranormal Mantric Experience III – Ostium – 0:37
05. Scent of Sulphur – 4:44
06. De Vermiis Mysteriis – 5:13
07. Seven Magic – 5:17
08. Wind Between Fingers – 5:30
09. Aura Ignis Aqua Tellus – 4:30
Overall Score: 8/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Moribund Cult.