FIDES INVERSA – Historia Nocturna (2020)REVIEW

A multitude of stirred claimant in the destructive torsion of liturgy, a thousand sulfurous candles offer a mere symbolic incantation in smoke for the burnt souls of φαῦνος and soon set-afire haftarah et requiem aeternam, scriptures of mourn cast unto coals in defiance — A crackling, twisted scream of plainsong in retribution for “daemonic” oppression one hundred generations deep fills cannon-sized holes where lineage crumbles when minds fall in line. In boarded chapel halls such as these old men dissolve by hunger into bone-stretched skin or collapse under leprous infection. Their ideals no longer nourish, no lèse-majesté conjures in rescue, and their petulant kin thrive on the distraction of mirrors, trinkets and cartoonish debauchery. All must accept they deserve nothing less than the sparagmos our melting world has to offer, a De Leproso amovendo served to each in spite. Pointed judgement lands upon the ouroboric nature of society as the cardinal malfeasance, in torment of systematic disconnection from land and reason, for the sake of scorched soil and brimstone resultant. Faith in humanity inverts in mind as ‘Historia Nocturna‘ licks and flails as graceful as lurid fire by the hand of Italian black metal force Fides Inversa, our bodies sky-bound and aflame serving to stoke Helios’ spiraling, explosive rapture. Their intent is yet of the night, of darkness and ruthless mayhem, though it feeds on recusal of fiery spiritual damnation.

Tradition honed in defiance offers the inspirational core that’d allow this Roman black metal entity to traverse all national planes for smoldering Swedish precision and render, Germanic stoicism, and their own porcelain shattering innato for occult aggression. With that said, and the quality of all of their work respected, nothing they had done prior to the ‘Rite of Inverse Incarnation‘ (2017) EP felt formative until it’d landed upon us, there it was clear a more ‘original’ and congruous entity was therein realized and thankfully ‘Historia Nocturna’ is the delivered whole of that epic prior suggestion of forms. It is very much a case of the third time being the charm for musician Void A.D. and his impressive cohort Omega A.D. (Blut Aus Nord, Enepsigos, Nubivagant, ex-Acherontas etc.) who have collaborated on this deemed “orthodox” black metal project since 2006, arguably near the height of that illusory style. Fides Inversa have long been heralded for their steadfast approach, which was clearly influenced by French and Swedish Satanic black metal from the late 90’s/early 2000’s as the black metal sub-genre took back its power from keyboard elves and feckless self-parody. Proud and wonderful as that might sound it was not entirely standout material in terms of ever seeing beyond that movement and influence, a reality that is now subverted by broader influences and much more inventive guitar work on ‘Historia Nocturna’.

The most reasonable place to land in description today is somewhere between the bending whips of peak Inquisition, a quick swipe through End All Life Productions‘ classic roster, and the liminal subversion offered by Funeral Mist and Deathspell Omega circa ~2004. But this all feels more like my own references are halted in time rather than expresses what Fides Inversa sound like today, this time around feels much more “natural”, a fluidity that is less suffocatingly staunch and abrasive. The friction of their movement is reduced to such a degree that it all flings about with great majesty and excitement, a storm of suggested melody that merely coalesces rather than darts into full statement. This sense of movement is an immediate draw and provides a very knowable, easily learned experience which sustains quite well through repeat listening. Vocalist Wraath, best known for his vocals in One Tail, One Head, is a large part of this repeatable appeal thanks to varied and expressive range, which is aided by Omega and emphasized in the more mid-paced pieces, such as “Syzygy”. His voice is uncannily appropriate in the myriad situations it is placed, stunning but never vying desperately for a pulpit. This is most important when nuance becomes the major focus of songwriting, such as the glorious lilt of “The Visit” and its eventual refrain into ghostly, ecstatic gasps. I’d argue that this is Fides Inversa’s finest moment simply because this synergistic, astoundingly detailed level of songwriting somehow still feels like native and free-living black metal defiance despite the songwriter’s meticulous nature.

There is the sense that when all of Fides Inversa is set in motion they are always anticipating the impact of their own blows, only relenting to ensure they’ve hammered their target with clean and direct volley. This is a somewhat dangerous feat for the sake of avoiding machined dryness, and I’m yet undecided if the level of precision here isn’t more for the sake of modern standards. Perhaps this competitive sheen relates back to black metal circa 1994 more than any band claiming as much these days, but I’d still wanted something a bit more broken and raw somewhere along the dark path towards a peak of intensity the album ends upon. This isn’t a criticism of the production or mix/master, mind you, just the precision of performance. The actual production values ( beyond the recording process) come from Necromorbus Studio B and were handled by Marco S., who has absolutely been a wizard behind many of the most impressive records released in the last several years. “A Wanderer’s Call and Orison” is the storm and cataclysm you’d expect from that description, pushing towards chaotic resolution briefly before hammering through it with some considerable melodicism and rhythmic brutality instead. This is more or less the ‘pact’ and bar set for the full listen and they’ve managed to outdo it with the longer 8-9 minute pieces as the full listen heads into Side B. “I Glance You with a Touch, I Touch You with a Gaze” is beyond words, a phenomenal peak that feels touched by the auld savant masters of the craft, and the finale of “I Am the Iconoclasm” acts as the final crack in the seal, finishing the experience with a sweetly varied flood of inspired ideas. The full listen is masterful yet effortless enough that it doesn’t become a taxing chore to revisit, there is an experience therein that is tangible and ultimately entertaining.

Ecstasy, delirium, anti-spiritual curses and wrathful immersion in defiance of fleshy humanity is impressively realized with artwork from an artist I do not know much about, Iza, yet the crossing of fine line-drawing and twisted organic forms suits ‘Historia Nocturna’ in good form, surely worthy of a big vinyl square. This makes for a package that is earthen, organic yet crafted to a high standard of staunch tradition and these are qualities I cannot deny. I suppose what took me so long to find the words for this release came down to the inverted spiritual themes inherent to the cerebellum of the album; Fides Inversa offered no crowbar to split open their crated meaning, it took some side-eyed and neck-craning observation to finally see the eye of the goat through the planks, feel the pierce of each horn, and begin to fall into the abysm on offer. I revere it now nonetheless and give high recommendation of it.

High recommendation.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Historia Nocturna
LABEL(S):W.T.C. Productions
RELEASE DATE:July 22nd, 2020
BUY/LISTEN/STREAM:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRES:Black Metal

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