Even-though it’s been more than a year, I will write several reviews on stuff released by GrimmDistribution (and the sister-labels involved) from ‘back then’. Mártír is one of those releases that does deserve any additional support by undersigned (for what it’s worth).
Anyway ‘part one’, Aetherius Obscuritas are a duo from Hungarian soil, active for about two decades, and for some strange reason way too underestimated outside their home country. This release will probably / surely, put this project on the world-wide map of Extreme Metal.
Anyway ‘part two’, Mártír is the band’s seventh or eighth full-length album, clocking more than forty minutes. There are 1,000 physical copies, coming with a twelve-page booklet, which does include the lyrics (performed in both English and Hungarian) and a modest, sober lay-out. It gets released in a cooperative craftsmanship in between GrimmDistribution, part of the mighty Satanath Records family, and Paragon Records from the States. And before writing down my thoughts on the sonic side of this recording, a last point of information. The album was recorded by founding member Viktor ‘Arkhorrl’ Vágvölgyi (‘etherial lore’ aka all vocals, strings and synths) and drummer László ‘Zson’ Fodor, who collaborated a thousand times before with Aetherius Obscuritas (both live as well as session musician).
The core of Aetherius Obscuritas’ Black Metal is based on speed-up melodies, a powerful and stunning technical execution, and a well-thought equilibrium in between blasting aggression and dark-atmospheric elegance. I did mention ‘speed-up’, for the better part indeed rages from energetically up-tempo over brutally accelerating up to pyroclastic eruptional. The merciless, barbaric drum-work by Zson surely contributes to that furious and maniacal character. However, once in a while, or is it: more than once, everything slows down, with calmer passages and rather relaxed excerpts. Relaxed? Well, that’s an exaggeration, for do not expect any moment of peace or tranquility.
The technical implementation is of a very high-standard, creative nature. This gets translated through the many breaks and tempo-changes (which are, by the way, very well-balanced and deeply worked-out), the cool yet cunning modifications in structure, the little progressive guitar-lines and leads, the multi-layered and savage approach, and the fine interplay in between the lead-work and the rhythm section. The latter gets strengthened in a positive way by the professional yet still rough-edged production, generating an acceptable mix of all voices and instruments.
Besides, this album brings more than just a virulent and vicious assault on the listener’s state-of-mind. Aetherius Obscuritas do add quite some interesting details. The main vocals are little nasal, very raw, somewhat shrieking and high-pitched, but there are spoken words and some cleaner vocals too; not too much, yet done at the right moment. Another thing is the use of some atmospheric, semi-symphonic fragments. The keyboards are carefully used, organically mixed into the whole experience, and they do create those necessary moments of in-depth ambience at the right moment. Other synth parts add a feeling of psychedelic and frenzy mind-twist (example: the oppressive industrial / electronic outro Pulzár or certain chapters within Lidércpalota). Furthermore, the well-crafted guitar solo’s are technically strongly-written and performed, strengthening an epic mood of victory, then again simply defining Arkhorrl’s craftsmanship. And of course you can expect some acoustic guitar-work as well. Beyound The Walls (‘beyound’ indeed, not ‘beyond’) is a track totally performed on acoustic guitar, unusual and dexterous, and a fine intermezzo on this full-length.
An interesting thing is the guest contribution of some well-known human (I think they are) beings, like Ragnarok’s current front-man Jontho (on Marthyr) and Lord Kaiaphas (currently in e.g. Le Chant Noir or Thokkian Vortex; ex-Ancient / Thokk / Grand Belial’s Key) (The Frozen Lake Of Eternity).
Anyway, there’s no use to go on with delving into details and descriptive points of interest. Mártír turns out to be a very eccentric, diversified and, above all, overpowering and laborious work, which will be adored by some, and maligned by others. Listening before buying (stealing?) is recommended, but the open-minded ones amongst us might be positively surprised!