Stigmata Diaboli – The Coded Devil
Like a lot of the music and lyrics, the history is shrouded in mystery, perhaps for the better as like other groups such as Deathspell Omega who tend to create a similar occult atmosphere through being secretive and rather limited to sharing information with the public, either on members of the group or the band’s releases, it seems Thorn and his project go the same route, though Stigmata Diaboli has a sound very different from Deathspell Omega. “The Coded Devil” is its own chaotic ensemble of harsh guitars, blast beats, raw vocals, tremolo picking, and also a few surprises here and there that will instantly change anyone’s mind about Stigmata Diaboli being ‘just another black metal band’.
Hailing from Poland, the lyrics and song titles tend to change around as much as the music. The opening ‘Przeistoczenie’ sounds like a typical black metal track with death metal elements, but Thorn tosses in lots of dark moments simply with the guitar, thunderous samples, and overall lots of melody while still maintaining a kvlt atmosphere along his dark snarls; think more of how 1349 rocked the black metal world with their album “Revelations Of The Black Flame”. The use of keyboards is rather extensive, but not overly done, so the occult atmosphere is kept in check without making the music feel like its delving more into Dimmu Borgir territory. Other tracks like ‘Chwala…’ follow suit, although the guitars take a more sinister tone, and there is almost a black and roll feel to the music when listening to ‘Odweiczny Bunt’. The riffs are quite head bangable, feeling more like a Dark Fortress track than anything else. ‘Arise My Demon’ showcases more interesting drum work, which only fleshes out the talent of Thorn’s ability to perform all the instruments. Not a typical black metal piece, Thorn still uses the simple tones to keep the kvlt atmosphere together.
‘Instynkt’ is where Stigmata Diaboli throws a curve ball. All of a sudden thick beats and an industrial feel is thrown into play, touching on influences from groups like Aborym. While not quite dance or techno metal, the style is drawn out more with ‘Search Your Devil’ which definitely adds in a new, flashier side to the black metal. While the kvlt atmosphere is certainly broken by this, it still helps the track stand out even if it is very atypical for most black metal listeners. For those who really don’t like such a mash up of genres, only these 2 tracks really feature this as the album settles black more towards its blackened death metal with symphonic overlays through the rest of the album with tracks such as ‘The Cypher’. Still, hopefully Thorn will continue to employ more use of the industrial beats among his black metal on future works as it just adds a more dynamic sound to the music and makes it more approachable to other listeners of the sub genre.
‘Dominus Vobiscum’ is a two part opus that is probably the most ‘black metal’ on the album with very limited frills in the way of keyboards or industrial bits- fans of Funeral Mist will really get a kick out it with the opening samples. Overall, this album is a strong black metal debut that will satisfy pretty much any black metal fan, though elitists probably should stay away as Thorn dips his fingers in lots of different genres to try and make his music a bit more interesting than the standard fare. And it works very well.
4 / 5 STARS