How many good bands come from Italy? It’s not a derisive question, but a legitimate one. How many bands do you know that hail from the land of the Roman Empire? They don’t get the same publicity as bands from Norway, Finland, or Germany, but there are plenty of bands that hail from Italy that are worth attention. The scene there might be small and overlooked but plenty of bands that call that region home are on the up and up. Take the band Nero Barlume for instance. A few months ago I had never heard of them, probably never would have, but now that I have, I have high hopes from them. Abyssus is the latest offering, a two song EP, from them and before the review even begins, I will say that this EP is a good starting point, not half as many bands that we know and love today started off with this kind of promise.
Abyssus is short, lasting less than twenty minutes, but in that time the listener is able to glean all the need about what the project has the potential to do. The mix of ambient synth work at the beginning of each song would be the envy of several dungeon synth projects I know and love, and the black metal, as far as the music is concerned, is fantastic. The one thing I think Nero Barlume needs to work on in the future is blending these two incredible talents so that they are cohesive and melodic. There is a lot of potential here to become very, very good. As I said, I know lots of bands that would kill to have such a starting point.
Nero Barlume is a project with a vision of grandiose darkness. The music is flowing and theatrical, even if a little wonky in transition, telling the familiar black metal tale of the descent into hell. In any other form of literature, this story would be new and invigorating, but in black metal it’s one of the old stalwarts. Each “journey” by the different projects that have told such a tale is different, some are chaotic and claustrophobic while others are full of orchestration and flourish. I like both. The descent into the underworld, the catabasis, is a story frame made for black metal. Who else could do it better? We know what hell really is, after all. Nero Barlume, for their part, tell an excellent tale through their music. The production is good, even though it’s not the best. The production is part of the story. It is neither so grainy that no actual music can be discerned, nor so clean that the music feels sterile and fake. For the tale they are telling in Abyssus, the sound quality is excellent.
Even though the narrative is only two songs long, it feels complete. I’m not left wondering what the next song is, my musical appetite, as it were, is satisfied. Abyssus is a good album, a bit steeply priced at eight euros, but still worth a listen. The project has some ways to go, blending all the elements of the music together into a truly spectacular form, but if they have the drive and talent, they will be able to do just that.
If you enjoyed this try: Chiral, Horrenda, Slow
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- Abyssus I
- Abyssus II