Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Profezia - Oracolo Suicida (2013)

I don't know what it is about traditional string instrumentation (violins, etc) and Italian metal bands that so often works for me, but I'm not complaining. They sounded brilliant on former Goth metallers On Thorns I Lay's seminal Crystal Tears, or even in the melodic death context of a Dark Lunacy, and they immediately transform the third Profezia full-length Oracolo Suicida into something both eloquent and reflective alongside the carnal, melancholic black metal riffing which stands as their foundation. Granted, that's mainly just the first, titular tune and not completely representative of the full 40+ minutes, but enough to hook you in for the remainder. Having had only a few brushes with the group's earlier material, I have to say I'm glad Moribund is re-releasing this thing (with new cover artwork), because I completely missed it last year and it's worth hearing at least once.

Profezia's black metal is perhaps best described as a union of Norse and Mediterranean aesthetics via the melodic chord choices, with a bit of Swedish suicidal structure circa a band like Shining or Greeks like Dodsferd. However, they're prone to take a few risks, like those graceful strings mentioned in the opener, or the more open and percussion-free architecture of "Sacra Tempesta" which incorporates some brooding clean male vocals before transitioning into the raspier black metal timbre. Further orchestral components are subtly layered into a few of the other tunes like "Nato Morto", and overall I'd say they grant us just enough seasoning that Oracolo Suicida is spared by default from seeming like another directionless, rambling black metal opus which I'd often equate with bands who perform 9 minute tunes in this field. Granted, the roots of this music are very often stock, mellow chord progressions which wouldn't suffice on their own, but it never seems as if the international team-up wrote these songs with the classier ingredients as an afterthought, so in many cases the riff-work is there for its familiarity, often traipsing into a more black/doom territory in the narrative pacing and groovier, thicker rhythms.

Vocals definitely have a bit of Kvasir's natural accent bleeding through, which makes them even more of a decrepit, hermit-like barking, while the drums and rhythm guitars feel very clean and accurate, the latter being so moody and downtrodden that the listener is immediately reminded of ancient or cavernous spaces where the light rarely shines, regions forgotten by civilization and thus intimately perfect for the black metal media. Actually, 'intimate' is the perfect word to describe Oracolo Suicida, because the somber production of the strings and guitars gives it a personal, claustrophobic feeling, though they often channel a more dissonant and spectral wailing effect like the close of "Futuro Rivelato", which then cedes to the warmer chords that herald "Il Gioco del Parassita". As an ignorant foreigner who often idealizes the European mainland to a ludicrous degree, I imagined myself wandering, alone, through Roman ruins, through the shadows cast by this antiquated architecture during a blazing midday, while underground spaces beckoned. The pacing might change up, and no two tunes sound entirely alike, but Profezia have composed a consistent, higher concept excursion into the bleakness which unravels our humanity; very listenable if you're into the moods and malevolent Romantic underpinnings of Greek, Italian and Portuguese black metal.

Verdict: Win [8/10]

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