Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ill Omen - Divinity Through Un-Creation (2011)

My previous exposure to Ill Omen's music was the Compendium Melificarum, a compilation of the project's three earliest demos which was ultimately not that standout of an introduction. Divinity Through Un-Creation itself is the first proper full-length for the project, and while it doesn't necessarily break with the traditional, raw black mold of the demos, this was a far more fulfilling experience with a heavily loaded atmosphere of cutting, dissonant, reverb laden guitars and the natural ambiance created through the feedback. Each detail, from the harrowing, pseudo-sexual horror implied upon the cover to the grim certainty of the composition is an improvement, and alongside acts like Atra, Pestilential Shadows, Drowning the Light, Striborg and Temple Nightside, proof positive that Australia is developing quite a scene for haunting, repressive black metal. I guess it's no surprise, since the sole musician here (IV) is also involved with several of those others I listed.

To be sure, Divinity Through Un-Creation doesn't do much beyond what the target audience might expect from this genre. There is a clear undercurrent of Scandinavian influence, at least from the more raw recordings of Burzum, Bathory, Immortal and Emperor, but what I loved is how IV sets up the slower, tremolo riffing patterns in tunes like "Sins of the Flesh" and "Decrepit Heart of the Shadow-sun" to make the listener feel as if he/she has been placed in some necrotic Western, the vile note-flow bouncing off surrounding canyons and the agony of the central, growled rasp drawn upon the influx of carrion winds that have risen from the carnage of cattle and men strewn about some cracked, hell-baked valley floor. There's a lot of hissy, open air texture to the chord progressions, and even if the riffs seem mildly predictable, they never seem to lose their razor-like effect on the spirit of the audience.

At times, Ill Omen will surge into a more generic, less appealing thrust of pure mayhem that feel like you've experienced them a thousand times before, but this ironically offers a relief from the album's more frightening desolation, like the doomed, lilting steppes at the center of the "Ceremonial Malign" or the bright and agonizing certainty of "The Great Keys Inherit". In all, I'd say that IV has done a great job here of balancing off the album's periods of violent velocity with the more emotionally crippling, atmospheric sequences, and I also enjoyed the mournful envelope of chanted intro ("Utterance Befell the Curse") and cold, New Age female vocal outro ("Of Those Silence...") that contain the rest of the soul-wrenching goods. Ill Omen's full-length debut is an appreciable breath of loathsome revulsion, a messenger of Death and bodes 'well', rather than 'ill', for the project's future. Enjoy the rotting.

Verdict: Win [7.75/10]


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