Visited in their dreams by demonic teachers under the guidance of Korioshpiri, the ruler of all demons, the children of indigenous Andean (eastern) Peruvian Asháninka and Asheninka pre-Christian peoples were believed for centuries to be highly susceptible to unwilling possession. Gradual demonic rites from spectres of the dead (shiretzi) in form of nocturnal creates, be it bird or insect, created child sorcerers that would bewitch others, spread plague, and develop a taste for human flesh. The superstition was so ingrained into certain Awarak speaking cultures the accused ‘child witches’ would simply know to accept their fated, brutal deaths. Bludgeoned, stoned to death, sprayed with arrows at close range, burned alive, these possessed kin were then disposed of in equally macabre ways: Buried alive head first, tossed into great rivers, or left bloody to be eaten by predatory cats. There exists little evidence that this history of child-witch hunting persisted beyond the late 1800’s as the presence of Franciscan monks uprooted much of Peruvian culture for the sake of the callous and often violent Christianization of the region. By offering asylum to families with children accused of sorcery the Adventist presence among the Asháninka would eventually quell the prevalence of political or personally motivated child murder, though this knowledge of child sorcery and execution would soon serve as weaponry for multitudes of criminal invaders and political conquerors in justifying the culling of indigenous Peruvian culture. The witch hunts referred to within Pasto, Colombia blackened thrash/heavy metal group Lucifera‘s third full-length ‘La Cacería de Brujas’ appear to be less a document of history and more conjurations of the present occult; Seven incantations of chaotic powers are rendered by a true death coven with each track’s lyrics penned by a different ‘witch’ on this fantastic and definitive release for the Colombian duo.
The history of Lucifera is completely uninteresting from my perspective, as it seems to have initially been some kind of bland ‘all female’ themed heavy metal group that stumbled through their songwriting and musicianship leading up to the release of their second album, the fantastic ‘Preludio del Mal’ in 2017. The concept of the band would shift towards something more serious and extreme around 2014 after guitarist HellRazor‘s (Funeral Chant, Old Noise) main band black-thrashers AnteMortem had ended due to the unfortunate death of co-founder Astarum. If you’ll excuse my dismissal of the bands past I would emphasize that their present and future are far, far more worthy of your time and the hour long opus that is ‘Preludio del Mal’ still speaks well enough for itself. More importantly, Lucifera truly find solid, fertile soil to curse and wail upon with ‘La Cacería de Brujas’. HellRazor is a -fantastic- guitarist and multi-instrumental talent who has never been captured as vividly as on this record where he performs all instrumentals and songwriting. It would be easy to suggest that his lead guitar work is the life, the black blood of heavy metal eternal flowing through Lucifera‘s spirited thrashing geist but of equal importance is the snarling cadence of Alejandra Blasfemia who shifts into full on howl therein. In moving away from the more traditional vocal she’d previously alternated into on earlier recordings her performances become much more imposing and strikingly layered. Though you’ll need to understand Spanish for the full effect, her skillful enunciation here comes with a very satisfying sense of timing.
There is a part of me that’d like to point to Mefisto‘s demos and late 80’s Bathory for reference but it’d make more sense to jump forward a bit towards Necronomicon‘s (Germany) self-titled debut and Cruel Force for an idea of the heavy/speed metal content along with comparisons to Rebel Wizard, though Lucifera is much more rooted in black metal and feels far less wooden. They’d covered Colombian cult black/thrashers Acutor before on ‘Después de la muerte’ (2015) and if you’re a fan of ‘Dios ha Muerto’ the style found on ‘La Cacería de Brujas’ serves as a very worthy succession of that record as it marries first wave black metal with the classic South American extreme thrash style of the mid-to-late 80’s. As much as it might seem you’re getting a pure black metal record with a ‘twist’ upon the introduction of “Arde En Llamas” the record quickly expounds upon that extremity with an elevated form of speed metal lead guitar technique that serves to carry the melodic weight of the record. It’d be around the third spin of the full record that I found eyes blurring, my mind exiting, and the astral spectre of Lucifera yanking my spirit from my skull. In truth it’d be “Ceremonia Secular” that disembodied me, entranced all senses, and finally fed the anhedonist within a curative piece of memorable heavy metal; There I’d been fully sold on this as an above average release.
As with Witchgöat‘s ripping debut earlier this month this album is held together with the gluey, eternally blackened corpses of Teutonic witching metal but the drumming should appear equally rooted in Sarcófago‘s earliest coffin texts. Even if you’re not a sucker for the old ways of blackened thrash and speed metal I’d suggest that this isn’t as ‘retro’ as I’ve made it out to be, hence the mention of Rebel Wizard in addition to a very traditional band like Cruel Force. Because it is a thrashing, lead-driven blackened heavy metal record with several memorable tracks I can confidently recommend this latest Lucifera album. Moderately high recommendation. For preview I’d recommend starting with “Arde En Llamas” and if you’re not convinced enough to hear more jump over to “Ceremonia Secular” where the hook should at least inspire a full listen.
En pactos de sangre. 4.0/5.0
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