By the will of the swinging barbed whips in the skeletal hands of subterranean demons there emits a sky-blackening red fog from the mountain crypts south of Santiago as the great cracked ravines of the Earth open to release the mysteries of death to those who would incant their own transcendence. Armed with the wisdom of the eternally burning core, a portal at the center of the sphere, the demigods Cenotafio establish Temuco, Chile as their base of diabolic operation. They’d achieve knowledge of the ultimate depths in 2015 having since enlightened the living with the wisdom of the dead and punished the ignorantly pious with deeply blackened atmospheric death metal rituals. This second incantation, ‘Larvae Tedeum Teratos’, intensifies its message as the world prepares for the first of several fiery deaths beyond 2019. Few chapels of haunted ruin embody the depths of chaos and the echoes of great blistering chasms of molten fire than that of this well-hidden gem and the inspired duo who would create.
If you’d missed Cenotafio’s presence to this point it wouldn’t harm your perception of them at present to begin the journey with ‘Larvae Tedeum Teratos’ but the context of their evolution is inspiring and in such good taste that it’d be a bummer to miss. The Chilean duo began their career with dark obscurae in their hearts and galaxies beneath their cloaks with two rehearsal cassette tapes in 2015. The first a single ten minute piece ‘La tan ansiada devoción’ that quickly communicated their ethos: A harrowing and ritualistic dark ambient movement followed by a roaring subterranean blackened death metal piece. They had not fully worked out the rhythms and the nuance of their sound but the pulse of it was readily available from the start. ‘El encierro de las grandes revelaciones’ was a full 51+ minute rehearsal released that same year, again on limited cassette tape, that further developed the alternating pace of atmospheric noise generation and rueful daggers of black/death madness. At this point you could see the rhythms forming into something not far from Wrathprayer‘s ‘The Son of Moloch’ but perhaps less informed by war metal and more in tune with occult black metal. The true madness would begin in 2017, as I would discover myself, with the incredible ‘La Fatídica Excrecencia de la Subtierra’. That debut full-length placed writhing electric body atop the sacred fire-eating wyrm of their sound and provided one of the most compelling black/death metal releases of the year. Cenotafio‘s debut would beguile and entrance me to the point of listlessness and what I could muster for comparison would include Sheidim, Aosoth and Mitochondrian for its blurry, flashes of rhythm and huge vocal roar. They still had work to do but for a debut it was a fantastic beginning and a beautifully obscure gem.
A split with German occultists Into Coffin was just beginning to sink in as April came to a close and then we were quietly gifted the band’s second full-length on the first of May. A great immersion occurs from the first choral moan of the opener “La Apoptosis” as the fire crackles and thunder rings far beyond the cave we’ve entered. The triangle is rung and the roar of the guitars soon give ways to a murky, crawling gust of blackened death that’d shake loose every ancient stone clinging to our sheltered passage towards the abyss. The ‘self’ lay dead-eyed next to the warming fire as the ‘soul’ projects its astral being towards the many-toothed mouth of this crypt of torture and bestial enlightenment. Three more grand pieces rise and fall adorned by beautifully cryptic sound design that is cavernous but structured to the point that no movement feels unruly or disorganized. From the clash of swords at the end of “El Martirio” to the clanging church tower bells that wrap up the experience, this second album is both a continuation and elevation of what ‘La Fatídica Excrecencia de la Subtierra’ had achieved in terms of creating atmospheric value well above the norm. Where the strength of the message achieves a higher plane comes with increasing focus on waves of brazen death metal guitar chaos with a defiant and high-tempered black metallic streak. It isn’t a ‘riff’ album entirely, nor is it a series of atmospheric statements, and ends up being a strong balance of each.
A golden tape wrapped in blasphemic high art gives the sense that Cenotafio care not only about death metal ruin and ritual but, of treating the physical vessel of their music as a well-considered and intentionally crafted work. Everything the band releases is adorned with stylized album art with impressive movement. High quality transfers speak to their passion for the physicality of music ownership and the art of representing that music with fine creations. Even if you don’t care about the music’s corporeal forms the artwork is something worthy of mention all the same. With only four tracks spread across 38+ minutes there is a definite sense of entrancement created by the ambient portions of each song and for the first several sessions those ventures are what stands out most unless you’d task yourself with following the dense hail of guitar rhythms and echoing growls with purpose. I was gladly swept down into the darkness by the will of Cenitafio‘s necromantic sorceries because the full listen builds to a resurfacing and I’d awake in my vestments next to the dimmed campfire, awakened but, with a piece of my spirit forever abandoned far beneath the stone and the fire of the Earth.
I returned to this abyss repeatedly, finding new craggy formations and exciting movements as it became one of the more exciting releases I’ve heard this month. Yes, it won’t seem all that ‘far out’ compared to a lot of what is coming from the Chilean underground these last several years but I’d suggest you might not be giving up enough control to the forces that drive ‘Larvae Tedeum Teratos’ deeper still. Well above average ‘occult’ blackened death metal with oddly memorable atmospheric works entwined into its extended movements, highly recommended. For preview we’re given “El Martirio” which is one of the more direct to the point pieces on the album and I’d suggest that is a fine place to start though I’d say you need to hear “La Apoptosis” paired with it before making any judgments.
Grandes revelaciones de la subtierra. 4.25/5.0
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