Wartanas – Infernal Ritual

If you listen closely, one of the things that really sets some of the most seminal black metal albums apart from the rest is a very subtle element indeed. It’s present on ‘De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas’, ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, ‘Pure Holocaust’, and numerous other legendary works have it, and yet it’s a very difficult feeling to possess. I’m talking about the strange, primal throb that infects all these albums: the undulating line that is the very heartbeat of these works. No matter what form it takes, be it Immortal’s rolling percussion, Mayhem’s sensuous vocal movements via Attila Csihar, or the ominpresent (if difficult to interpret) bass of Darkthrone, each of these bands has an animalistic blood flow to it that sets them far apart from others. This throb is less present these days, with black metal becoming more technical and less primal and organic, becoming cleaner and losing all those features that caused the throb to emerge to prominently in these early releases. But there are still a few noble artists who, intentionally or not, possess the animalism of old.

Wartanas is one of those rare bands that is continuing it, though I’m still unsure as to whether it’s intentional or not. It’s most certainly present: each track on ‘Infernal Ritual’ possesses a distinct pulse due to the (oddly audible) bass guitar. But this music seems even more throbbing and sensuous than even those artists of old; it is nearly music defined exclusively by the throb, channeling it and twisting and bending it into shape, contorting it into a sound once familiar and unique. The music comes in a thick, dark cord of black metal, a pure sound, instruments clustered around each other like they’re huddled for warmth, creating the almighty throb, that command to do evil that we all hold so dear.

The sound isn’t merely raw; it’s muffled dramatically, as if it was recorded with a wall between the microphone and the band. It’s music to be listened to quietly, to better feel its impact upon your body, not your mind. This is overwhelmingly dark, reminding me very much of the Black Legions in style, with an emphasis on absolute, apocalyptic misanthropy. For some reason, this album reminds me of the film ‘Natural Born Killers’; not merely due to the interesting husband-wife lineup of Wartanas, but in the strange, coolly predatory atmosphere of this disc. Strangely enough, it’s almost as if songwriting takes a back seat to atmosphere on this release. The intricacies of individual songs are unimportant when faced with the whole of the LP; that of absolute darkness and hatred. When I listen to this album, I pay little attention to the songs themselves: I just soak up the sick, ritualistic atmosphere.

For those that are more preoccupied with specifics: the music is a breed of black metal with some thrash and rock influences. Vocals alternate between hissing whispers and full-blown screams that seem much more dangerous than your average black metal vocalist. A wide range of tempos are explored, from the slow speed that dominates ‘Battle Cry Of The Ancients’ to the manic blasting of ‘The Body Dies’. Instrumentation is handled capably, though the music is thoroughly nontechnical. While each song is fairly unique in its delivery, the only one I really consistently notice is ‘Annihilation Of The Ignorant’, with its rocky riffing and sardonic vocals. Every song here is a war march, a genuine call to occult arms matched by few others. This is most certainly not music to be listened to in a traditional fashion; indeed, one must give oneself over to the art entirely.

Wartanas’ ‘Infernal Ritual’ is most certainly not something that will appeal to those seeking a more ‘stable’ variety of black metal. But for those who would examine the fringes of art in this genre, I highly recommend giving Wartanas a try. This truly is music on the very outskirts of the underground.

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~ by noktorn on April 14, 2007.

One Response to “Wartanas – Infernal Ritual”

  1. Thank you for the kick ass review!

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