Artist: VERTEBRA ATLANTIS
Album: Lustral Purge In Cerulean Bliss
Label: I Voidhanger Records
Release Date: 12/11/2021
Like many of the releases on I Voidhanger Records the album is an experimental blend of dissonant, psychedelic and cavernous blackened death metal. One of the many elements that set this album apart from some of its contemporaries are the wildly varied and at times genuinely inhuman vocals presented throughout the album. You’ll find a wide variety of vocal styles ranging from shrieked black metal vocals, guttural death metal vocals, shouted harsh vocals and monotoned clean spoken vocals. Aside from these though you’ll hear wild shrieks, groans and almost animal like sounds (particularly on track 2 Carnal Denouement). These genuinely sound as if they could be emerging from the deepest trenches of the ocean, from misshapen creatures unseen by human eyes.
Instrumentally you’ll find an equal amount of variety, with each track progressing and evolving in its own unique way. Some segments are best described as psychedelic post-metal and use crisp and complex guitar work to take the listener on a mind-bending journey. Track 4 Altopiano Celeste is the perfect example of this and is easily one of the standout tracks on the album, serving as a highly complex 7:22 instrumental offering.
The drum work on the album is at times dizzying with the unusual time signatures and rhythmic patterns. The guitar work on the album swirls around the listener like a maelstrom of complex and unpredictable riffs and hooks. At times I’m almost reminded of a combination of early Suffocation, Immolation and Incantation style riffs sprinkled in here and there. Overall though the guitar work is even more dissonant and technical than any classic death metal act regardless of any inspiration they may have inspired. To add to this there are some very clearly black metal riffs and hooks present on the album and segments of very clear tremolo picking.
The addition of spacey, haunting synth elements further elevates the true depth of the release and really aids in the development of the album’s atmosphere. Without these elements the entire album wouldn’t sound as otherworldly. I also can’t leave out the bass on the album which is appropriately thick and chunky for a release of this nature.
Overall, I can see this album running up a few end of year lists for heaviest, most oppressive death metal albums of the year. There’s a ferocity and a weight behind this album that many acts in the genre aim for but fall short of. The reason it works so well for this album is that the band focuses equally on complexity and atmosphere as well as aggression. It’s this combination of the three that gives it that extra level of bite and prevents it from ever feeling repetitive or boring.
Listen to and order the album: