Imago Mortis - Ars Obscura

Imago Mortis are Italy's best kept secret in black metal. Formed in 1994 they've been cranking out raw, exclusive demos for the earlier half of their career and only recently have released their debut. It was harsh, powerful, and about a venomous as any black metal album could get with a surprising amount of melody. Now Imago Mortis have their second album out, and it is even catchier than the first. Ars Obscura is dark, epic, and blasphemous in a very classy style.

While some black metal just likes to be as raw and downtrodden as possible to keep the spirit of evil alive, Ars Obscura murders the earhole in a different way. From first listen, yes, they sound a ton like Marduk (even Marduk has a song called Imago Mortis), but Imago Mortis are a big heavier and less experimental on the doom metal side than Marduk is. Ars Obscura opens with "Nox Perpetua," which has a spoken word sample before launching into the black metal. Right from the start listeners can tell this is going to be aggressive music. However, it is unique aggressive music. The drums actually hold rhythm and melody along with the guitars and don't sound like they are on annihilation autopilot all the time. The guitars do have that buzz saw sound to it, but they are also cleanly produced so they don't fog up the track with distortion. Vocals are ugly as hell but also evil without being annoying. The tempo is mid paced and features plenty of groove. "Summer Regina" is a bit more experimental with the tolling bells as the guitars perform a funeral waltz before picking up the black rock n' roll pace. Drums are still slow, but speed up every once in a while to keep the song as dynamic as possible. The title track is the longest track on the album, and for the most part is an instrumental due to the guitars trying to be as epic is as possible, but the vocals creep in every once in a while to make their mark.

"Cassa Morta" is the most 'extreme' track on the album due to the relentless drums and the fact that the guitars give no pace for breathing room or groove. Of course, it is good to see that Imago Mortis are willing to deliver varied types of black metal rather than the same groove, mid paced laden material that has been heard for the last few tracks. On the other hand, "1330" is the most melodic track because the guitars offer a doom metal pace in their long chords and even some melodic individual strings rather than the usual rapid-fire chords. The precision of each note is a pure black metal funeral waltz that is great for anyone who is a fan of Khold or Satyricon. Of course, by the time the album is over, Marduk still holds the winning influence.

Black rock n' roll has never sounded sweeter with Ars Obscura. While the entire album is done in Italian, the lyrics can always be translated and theĀ  music is still enjoyable for any black metal fan of any nation. They are thoughtful and provoking, dealing with more than just Satan and blasphemy that lots of other black metal bands put out. The music is surprisingly clean for a black metal album, but part of that thanks goes to the production studio that did such a good job on the album. Imago Mortis certainly have proved their worth and will hopefully continue to earn more fan worship with their inspiring music.

  1. Nox Perpetua
  2. Summa Regina Morotum
  3. Ars Obscura
  4. Cassa Morta
  5. Pestilentia
  6. 1330

Drakkar Productions
Reviewer: Colin McNamara
Jul 2, 2010
Next review: Clockwork - Clockwork

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