…where we are now, with a culture of extreme individualism and extreme competitiveness and extreme isolation. I think we do end up in a situation where people feel constantly anxious, alienated, and where bonds between people are being broken down, and any sense of solidarity is being crushed.” Though this isn’t the complete thesis of Carl Cederström’s 2018 book The Happiness Fantasy and any subsequent lectures we’re lead towards the ultimate conclusion with a few moments of causal consideration; The advances made in brutally effective marketing thanks to communications technology boons in the 70’s and 80’s have made short work of the last several generations of “first world” societies, turning any plea for “unity” and “freedom” decades prior unto corporate slavery, specialized (read: “blindered”) empathy-void intelligence and increasingly visible brutal inequalities. It is one thing to find happiness wreathed in shit, “Do what thou wilt” shall be the whole of the Law, applies to swine too… yet it is another to sleep soundly, ignorantly snoring upon a foundation girded by the freshly stripped bones of your neighbors. It takes a well-trained sociopathic ape to gorge on unsustainable food sources, support unchecked corporate power, and even less sentient a human being to ignore their own live-burning environment. Too many of us are born without self-respect, live with foully prescribed meaning, and die trampling a wide path for others, urging their own extinction at doubled capacity. I’d think any reasonably intelligent man a complete fool to consciously avoid their soapbox to express dissent. The fire beneath the skin that shakes Stockholm, Sweden-based black metal quartet Regnvm Animale into action is a similar voice of dissent, shaking heads at the burning world around them yet willing to stop and speak to the illness of corporation-ruled life and unchecked capitalism via their own form of crust influenced melodic black metal on this latest EP ‘Ignis Sacer‘. A morose yet melodious unveiling of our presently creeping dystopian times.

Of course when using crust punk as a modifier we are speaking to a couple of different generations at once; First the original duo’s early work (‘Regnvm Animale‘, 2014) & (‘Et sic in infinitum‘, 2015) featured a somewhat noticeable influence from bands such as Martyrdöd and perhaps earlier Agrimonia where elements of melodic black/death metal were seeping into evolved and (at the time) cutting edge extreme metal breakthroughs in the crust sphere once again. No doubt when we suss out the finer melodic voice of Regnvm Animale they’ve some fealty to the less brutal side of classic kängpunk and especially their more sophisticated British influences but, when turning towards this full-fledged quartet-sized awakening of the band for ‘Ignis Sacer’ we should have albums like ‘Paranoia‘ (and maybe ‘Í blóði og andain’) in mind. I’d said as much back in 2018 when discovering the band through their split with Norn, another punk influenced black metal artist but I wasn’t entirely prepared for the quality of their material on this latest record.

“Att leva utan självaktning” or “To live without self-respect” (more or less) once again reprises their tendency to open with a neofolk feel before busting into the work at hand. “Interregnum” is almost immediately anthemic, a rippling and statuesque bark from the pulpit that envisions the world an acrid, dead, and terrifying place scourged with wartime opportunism and massive death. “Hör massorna kräver / liv och bröd” in the narrator’s eyes we see the crowds plead for necessities taken for granted, bread and water at the very least, and there we’ve received the weight of the not-too distant future as envisioned by Regnvm Animale. Though their vision is distraught the triumph of ‘Ignis Sacer’ is that the expansion into a quartet hasn’t overwhelmed the band with variables and these songs are without question their finest point of craft, meticulous yet flowing black metal pieces that retain the catchy-yet-tense furor of past releases. The title track in particular just seethes within its motions, describing a war between the “haves” and “have nots” in terms of resources available during mid-collapsing biome. Though I miss some of the more bass-driven pieces on ‘Regnvm Animale’ I’m glad to find my favorite piece on the album, “Missväxt” retains this trait of the band without sounding regressive or too flatly punk rock compared to the other pieces surrounding it. The lyrics here are especially venomous, and contain one of several references to ergot poisoning resultant from a declining environment. “Från en blödande hand till en svältande mun / De frossar girigt utan skam” This depiction of greed without shame nails hard the greater point. If the tone of ‘Ignis Sacer’ weren’t so effectively tragic the detail of the lyrics and themes might appear somewhat cursory so, I’d really appreciated how sitting and digging into this EP revealed a cohesive progression of imagery, suggesting a well-considered and intentioned experience.

The major observation to be made here is that Regnvm Animale are no longer a simple alchemical formula comprised of black metal tempered with a buffering solution of crust punk but instead they’ve discovered a coherent, stoic form of black metal that is informed by their own long-developed melodic sense of self. This is a righteous enough foil but it is their passion for a better world inhabited by communal empathy rather than feckless, murderous greed that sets the experience over the top of the heap for my own taste. Of course there are many angles to view the lyrics from but I particularly appreciate dissent warning a herded society via apocalyptic imagery, it speaks to the most classic influences of extreme metal at the very least. If something that politico irks you for whatever reason, well, it all arrives in raw-shouted Swedish so there is a good chance you’ll not understand a word. This’ll likely make the intro track (“Att leva utan självaktning”) moderately annoying sans translation but it is short enough all the same. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (77/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Ignis Sacer
LABEL(S):Deutsche Bulvan Bolag
RELEASE DATE:January 24th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Black Metal,
Blackened Crust Punk

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