Sunday, 20 November 2011

Raising Their Temple

Release: 'IHVH' (2011)

As an arena of expression, extreme music has always walked the fine line between genuine artistic merit and a ridiculed circus of often unaware self-abasement. In particular, black metal has regularly had to bear the brunt of merciless, though astute, parodies and more often, annoyingly ill-informed pop culture references that feed unashamedly off the genre's headline grabbing activities during its toddler stages.

Interestingly, contemporary (and mostly 'orthodox') black metal acts, in an expectedly confrontational manner, have tapped into these earliest, controversial rumblings and re-opened the credibility debate once more, while more established acts such as Dimmu Borgir and Satyricon are busy selling 'official' underwear and appealing to post-emo fanbases.

Today, 'real' black metal operates in a realm of almost primordial levels of seriousness: a return to "No Mosh, No Core, No Trends, No Fun", perhaps. Either way, it is most definitely encouraging some of the greatest material the genre has ever produced.

Following their 2005 demo, Rêx Mündi seemingly disappeared into the nether recesses of the underground, as the 77 limited copies of their first opus quickly became a hard-to-find gem of twisting melodies and informed occultism.

Sharing the demo's title, 'IHVH', this full-length is a veritable reward to all patient enough to have awaited another release from Rêx Mündi, and who were giddy from the instant dedicated French extreme sounds label, Debemur Morti Productions, revealed details concerning the record, along with tantalising samples.

'IHVH' is a thoroughly arresting concoction of dense atmosphere and accomplished song writing. Examining Qabalistic philosophy, the occult, metaphysics and laced with haunting chants, while often balancing on the cusp resting betwixt intricate melody and metal abrasiveness, it is an exercise in suitable variation and utimately presents an act well practiced in the black metal arts.

At points, Rêx Mündi demonstrate an approach and structure similar to their fellow countrymen, Merrimack, but their changing rhythmic patterns and willingness to inject some typically metal toe-tapping (and 'moshable') sections sets them aside from the majority of the contemporary black metal milieu. The impressively executed percussion possesses a satisfyingly punchy emittance that sits well over the main instrument mix without sounding disconnected in the process.

The record is also veined with several surprisingly thrashy, though refreshing, moments. The beginning of "The Flesh Begat" chugs forward into some excellently blasted black metal that then effortlessly merges into a slightly doomy section, sounding momentarily like a Hammer Horror film's soundtrack.

Debemur Morti Productions' fingerprints are all over this album. A label that clearly delights in perfecting layout and design (probably much to the joy of the bands it fosters), the accompanying booklet is rendered in the style of an ancient magical text, complete with embossed band logo and sigil, all presented in lustrous gold ink on a black background.

While it is a little more 'upbeat' and seemingly less shy of its headbanging heritage, 'IHVH' remains a serious, devoted release. Though more 'metal' than the most recent Blut Aus Nord output, for example, Rêx Mündi are essentially channelling the very same energies and posing the same questions to the heavens, mankind and the uncharted planes.

Rating: 80%

Also submitted to under the username 'torchia', 19 November, 2011.

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