Label: Obscure Musick
It seems that black metal will spread its darkness to the most unlikely of places. The American Bible Belt might not be where you’d expect to find a hotbed of Satanic activity, but that’s where Lustravi hail from. And it only takes a single listen for it to be made clear that Cult Of The Blackened Veil is an incredibly Satanic black metal record, full of dark blasphemies and perversions against the Christian god. There’s such hatred and passion contained here that it’s hard not to be impressed, but it’s not an album that relies on rage to succeed. There is also a real sense of beauty and melody at times, that contrasts superbly with the darker moments in the way that black metal does so well.
Strongly reminiscent of 90’s Scandinavian black metal, recalling the likes of Dissection and pre-Panzer Division Marduk, maybe even a few touches of Watain (back when they were good), as well as having a few Morbid Angel-esque death metal elements on tracks such as “Salute To The Angels”. Lustravi take these influences to create something that maybe isn’t groundbreaking, but nor does it ever feel tired or generic. On the contrary, the band’s passion and belief infuse the music with a real vitality and an undeniable presence. It’s hard not to be impressed by the way they make their music feel both fresh and new, whilst still recalling the old masters. It’s a difficult balance to find, and Lustravi deserve praise for getting it right, as does the production which gets the mix of dirt and clarity absolutely spot-on.
One of the most notable aspects of Lustravi’s sound are the vocals. Band founder Morgan sounds possessed throughout, her harsh vocals those of a woman touched by something other-worldly. She sounds rabid throughout, as if she is on a one-woman crusade to tear down Christianity and see Satan rise triumphant. Yet she never sounds out of control, and her technique ensures the lyrics are normally clear – and even when they aren’t, their intent is.
There’s more than just rage powering Cult Of The Blackened Veil along, though. There are plenty of moments of old-school guitar heroics, with stirring solos and leads ensuring the album will appeal to those who appreciate other forms of metal. Most notable on this front is “Dona Nobis Chaum”, which has some hugely impressive solos and dual-guitar melodies around the mid-point, as well as some impressively deft drumming towards the end. “Rites Of The Goatchrist” is another stand-out track, full of a dark sexual power, culminating in some fake-orgasm vocals by Morgan that sound like a terrible idea on paper, but actually work on record. The interlude tracks also help keep the album interesting and prevent it collapsing under the weight of its own fury, whether it be the acoustic “Dreams Haunt My Sleep” of the more classically religious “Et Plebs Tua Laebitur In Te”.
Cult Of The Blackened Veil is a solid, engaging piece of black metal. Though it never strays too far from its core sound, there is still enough variety – and vitality – for the album to be considered a success, both musically and in terms of Satanic intent. When combined with the small touches of beauty evident in many of the beauties, it means that Cult Of The Blackened Veil is the kind of album that can be held up as an example of all that is good in traditional black metal, combining hate with beauty, melody and rage, sex and death.