NECROMANTICAL INVOCATION – Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (2021)REVIEW

The man who is enslaved by his passions or worldly prejudices can be initiated in no wise; he must reform or he will never attain; meanwhile he cannot be an adept, for this word signifies a person who has achieved by will and by work. The man who loves his own opinions and fears to part with them, who suspects new truths, who is unprepared to doubt everything rather than admit anything on chance, should close this book: for him it is useless and dangerous. He will fail to understand it, and it will trouble him, while if he should divine the meaning, there will be a still greater source of disquietude.” Éliphas Lévi Zahed, Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie – Part I: The Doctrine of Transcendental Magic

VERBUM INENARRIABILE — The emerald tablet served our ceremonial magus warmth during a seeming legless, mid-life stultifying financial and spiritual crisis enrobing an inexhaustible mind in advent ’til a new order of magick, an ideology to meld science and religion, was arisen and (eventually) well-hidden. Meant to erase “worship” from the skulls of mankind and provide clear-seeing intellectual leaders better in tune with the righteous all-entangled nature of life a proposed system of belief in, yes, magic was the admittedly convoluted and verbose path away from the long-failed, scourging and rabid dog’s bark of religion. This not-so ancient mindset, undying in the minds of men chosen by their own intriguing penchant for unearthing dead knowledge, reeks of a corpse ritual in moonlight by the hand of profound Greek musician Echetleos whom presents two stirring rituals of awakening under the hood of Necromantical Invocation. Borne from flesh in shaking resonance and blurring the eyes and ears of all witness, ‘Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie‘ carries in the cemetery fog via tendinous bassline and swarming organ, a ritual of theatrical folk music production as much as it is a decayed descendant of devotional Hellenic black metal study, here we are transformed and elevated as the masses under two sublime stages of bizarre, ancient conjure and messe minuit.

Noted earliest as a key member of Caedes Cruenta, Echetleos has long been involved in various traditional Hellenic and occult black metal circles since the early 2000’s also featuring in black/death metal acts such as (early) Archemoron and Nekydaimon along the way but it was perhaps his station in the venerable, timeless glory of Kawir and a few releases with Disharmony which had people turning their eyes/ears back towards not only Caedes Cruenta but also the fellow’s larger body of work. Having spewed endlessly about that band in a review for their most recent album (‘Of Ritual Necrophagia and Mysterious Ghoul Cults‘, 2021) it’d make sense to wipe a bit of my own too-excited drool over the craft of the cult and attempt to figure some small precedence for this somewhat difficult to describe ordeal. Boiled down to bones, we’ve got two two-piece acts which feature an introduction, a black metal ritual, and an theatrical ritual performance prominently featuring bass guitar and virtuosic performances meant to build ambiance. Well set for an initial tape release earlier this year and likewise perfect for this special vinyl edition featuring glorious artwork as we hit about ~15 minutes per side.

As to what precedence this creation has within ancient black metal theatrics and what value it has as an evolved, exquisitely made modern feat we can perhaps first (vaguely) look to Abruptum, side-eye early Equimanthorn, and barely get a sense of modus before a mention of Necromantia becomes key. In terms of Hellenic black metal rarities, we could dig much deeper with varying results: The first Empire of the Moon demo brings us the right mystique, Tatir‘s ‘Dark Autumn Nights’ has some of the finesse inherent but all too much muscular power, and Nar Mataron‘s ‘Tales of the Twelve Gods‘ is perhaps as close as we are going to get in terms of early-to-mid 90’s precedence for both atmosphere and attack beyond Necromantia‘s brilliant ‘Vampiric Rituals‘, which is a bit of a wild mess itself. By direct comparison ‘Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie‘ is virtuosic, composed, rendered with absolutely intentional atmosphere and the artist is surrounded by skilled actors and musicians as it plays out. Subtle as the original tape design was, this is a beautifully layered and rendered record with deeply resonant, arcane atmosphere.

Echetleos himself provides most vocals and bass, perhaps performing dual bass guitar performances on each of the larger pieces alongside some additional work from guitarist/bassist Miltiadis (In Utero Cannibalism) who also performed on the most recent Caedes Cruenta record to some degree. The recordings also feature a familiar drummer with perhaps too many projects to list on one page in Maelstrom (Embrace of Thorns, Dephosphorous, et al.) whom primarily presents on “Necromantical Ritual”, the centerpiece for folks looking for grave-digging, ancient analog black metal a la Mortuary Drape and Necromantia. A slow ease beyond the introduction (“Nυχτερινή Επίκληση” featuring spoken word from Katerina Krassa) into this doomed yet kinda shredding introduction as the core riff progression patient awaits Echetleos‘ upper-register rasp, a sort of noxious head voice modulates into an intoxicating character with many heads, incanting our doom. The keyboards are absolutely important for holding the shape of this briskly paced and almost Denial of God-esque piece when all is said and done. I can’t necessarily do the intensity of the experience justice within the large listen but this is the first anchor of the mind and the title track lands somewhere between a psychedelic revelation, a dark ambient ritual jam, and a serious invocation of malevolent spirits via lute-drawn folk advance. This is where I’d felt Necromantical Invocation go from thrilling black metal act to an unexpected avant-garde treasure, or, spiritual music as the saxophones roll in and the whisper-croaked vocals summon all manner of distress away from the corporeal.

It may be just over a half hour and the riffs are sort of packed into just one ~eleven minute piece but for my own taste this album and well, the experience that it serves, is something far beyond expectation; The two-sided approach is so perfectly “out there” and just enough of a teaser that it grips me with its clawed fist to such a degree that I’d found myself finding more reasons to stay seated a few more hours and stay within its dark aura. What Necromantical Invocation reaps is something perhaps uniquely tailored to Greek black metal fans to some degree but, should likewise make sense to black/ambient attuned ears. For those of us who seek ancient wisdom transformed, those who’d approach all new experiences and learn rather than “know” anything, ‘Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie‘ is probably right up your damn alley, too. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (88/100)

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie
LABEL(S):Helter Skelter/Regain Records
RELEASE DATE:July 24th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Black Metal,
Ritual Ambient

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