The dawn of Maius (May) signaled the Lemura’lia, a Roman festival said by Ovid to have been initiated by Romulus in fear of Remus’ soul returning to haunt him post-murder. It was viewed as mass exorcism and penance alike. Though the rituals associated with this season of clarifying dead and wandering souls appear complex, they were likely to have evolved this way as the trail of dead left by the Roman empire became exponential. The ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth days of May saw the populous barred from worship of the gods, and considered damned if married during the month. Rituals varied slightly by night but took place at night. The first in silence as the typical Roman citizen would cast beans and recite incantations within their homes. Vestal prepared bean flour cakes and cattle slaughter would, according to Ovid, commence. On the second night Vestals tossed Argei (effigies) made of reeds into the Tiber river during a larger mercantile festival. The Romans saw the latent souls of the dead as larvae boring into the meatus of society and the Lemura’lia sought to essentially boil up the ‘lemures’ through mass exorcism, and in doing so purify their own grief. Corpse, the musician behind archaic black metal project Cemetery Lights took special care to release his first (very limited run) cassette EP ‘Lemuralia’ on the first night of the Lemura’lia this year.
This second issue comes with help from Nuclear War Now! Productions and follows the official release of Cemetery Lights‘ second tape ‘The Church on the Island’ in early August. The style is appropriately dark and ancient black metal in style as Corpse approximates and then builds upon the well-aging rituals of Mortuary Drape, Alastis ‘Black Wedding’ tape, Necromantia‘s ‘Vampiric Rituals’ demo and Tiamat‘s innovative early mustiness. These are approximations as comparisons, though, and no matter how many obscure eastern European demos I scraped through hoping to find an equal it seems that Cemetery Lights have managed their own handle upon the essence of the past. One could stretch their ear far enough to hear ‘Severe Abominations’ in “Accursed Funeral”, some Hellenic magic at the heart of “Lemuralia” and ‘Into the Drape’-era Mortuary Drape on “Charite’s Revenge” but these influences appear in different forms throughout the relatively short EP.
Folks who have already heard ‘The Church on the Island’ will undoubtedly find this a more subtle production but with a similarly satisfying first wave black metal approach. If anything I felt that ‘Lemuralia’ was a bit more dynamically rendered and carries a certain gloom with it that I feel sort of justifies my mentioning Alastis‘ most formative releases on some level. It is most definitely an ultra-obscure stab in the dark and even if you don’t have any exposure to the dark works influencing Cemetery Lights‘ first tape, there is some amount of esoteric appeal to Corpse‘s independently formed first statement. I found I could leave it on repeat for hours and though I felt suffocated by its fidelity, the sound remains almost as charming as the inspired music it obscures. Highly recommended.
Hands of demoniac dexterity. 3.5/5.0
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