ABHOR – Sex Sex Sex [Ceremonia Daemonis Antichristi] (2022)REVIEW

Aus der gruft, rein in den wald. — Neglect of the augurs’ warning brings a deserved death for the defiant, the cockish corpse-face now frozen in permanent sneering contempt for the signs of fear in these ancient crypts. Kinship gather as baboons made eager by ambitions of succession, their mouths hang in curious gape, faces twisted to match in inverse of the gnarled expression, readied to receive the soul by direct siphon. From dead mouth to mouth the passage of virtuous liberty feeds an orgy of various conjurations, incantations which enrich the mind with horrors of possession and delights in the intimate presence of Satan. Without fears or superstitions held within the realms of death Italian black metal conclave Abhor freely partake in all manner of arcane rituals to summon the daimonian serpent, the organist’s adept key animating their every motion as if insidious descent. Their eighth chapter obsesses upon the tradition of summoning incarnations of evil and to a point of eerie, eye-narrowing esotericism outsized to the point of the unreal. In this way ‘Sex Sex Sex (Ceremonia Daemonis Antichristi)‘ serves as pornographic possession for the horrified black metal aficionado, an idyllic occult frightener unburied and given its due corporeal form.

The less than scholarly distinction between the first and ‘official’ second wave of black metal ideally lands us in the crucially stewed masses of the old country where the germinal continuum was additive rather than adaptive to new breakthroughs in occult craft. This is where the Padua-borne Abhor began back in 1995, with some great admiration of what was both new and most ancient in black metal at the time. Consider their sound without a care for sticking to the local scene, true fans of black metal who found virtue in the pan-European reality of the sub-genre. At this point their discography amounts to eight full-lengths, my favorite being ‘In Nostrum Maleficium‘ (2007), in the span of about twenty years all of which comes with some considerable variety. You can parse the plethora yourself or find some light summation of in my review of their seventh LP (‘Occulta Religio‘, 2018), a standout release which is most relevant to our interests today as the band’ve more-or-less continued to expand upon said work here in this latest record which concerns itself with a sound comparable to that of Culte Des Ghoules, Necromantia, early Mortuary Drape, and the rare sort along those lines.

When Abhor had reported that Lord Vrăjitor aka Juuso Peltola (Warmoon Lord, Old Sorcery) would perform keyboards in the band (the last two full-lengths had been with organist Leonardo Lonnerbach) I couldn’t necessarily say it was a bittersweet revelation since the fellowe is brilliant at what he does and it would assuredly mean that ‘Sex Sex Sex (Ceremonia Daemonis Antichristi)‘ would likely be different than past releases, this is generally true as we see a different side of the band emerge from the shadows, one even more obssessed with (and capable of) late 60’s/early 70’s horror tones in tune with ancient black metal. Ulfhedhnir‘s vocals gargle deeper, rasp harsher, and even pitch into distorted and hollow resonance as a strong point of focal dementia throughout the full listen, getting right into these occult sermons with “Ceremonia Daemonis Anticristi”, a song which should ring in the ears of anyone familiar with the slower, steadier performative malevolence of black metal in the early 90’s not quite ‘Hell Symphony‘ but in a similar trance. The piece likewise features atmospheric keyboards which serve a sort of choral shaping and a more conductive keyboard/electric organ generating rhythms and melodic voicing depending on the section of the song. The larger modus of this album arrives quickly in feature of simple, derogatory phrasing in a primitive and unhurried black metal style wherein a ton of moving parts makes for a hypnotic and surreal introduction while the keyboards set the scene and help to direct it at once, a different sort of theatre which suits ’em well.

Satanic perversity abounds as each of the next four 5-6 minute organ driven pieces preach, conjure and praise unholy Hell with quite a bit more instrumental variety and involved rhythms compared to the bulk of ‘Occulta Religio‘, repeating the unsettling harmonization of the dual keyboard/organ driver all while. For my own taste “Ritual Satanism” is the peak of this phase of the full listen where the vocals are insanely venomous, offering multiple tiers of narration and rasp which threaten to outperform the whirl of drum fills and organ grinding that likewise kick off the track. It isn’t the only song that has riffs which overtake and inspire but it is one of the more headbanging moments on the record overall. “Ode to the Snake” leads with one of the more bass guitar intense parts on the record and soon finds the most sinister, doomed main riffs on offer but it stands out early on for the sake of the sheer interplay enjoyed between these musicians. What begins to develop is a sound which isn’t all that uncommon in theory but rarely done with such a constant stream of ideas vaulting off one another, all of them landing rotten and ancient as the saunter on. It should come as no surprise that the running order inserts a cover version of “Beelzebuth” from Mystifier‘s classic second LP ‘Goetia‘ and doesn’t miss a beat, fitting in very well with the overall effect of the full listen.

If it’d seem I’d breezed through my thoughts on ‘Sex Sex Sex (Ceremonia Daemonis Antichristi)‘ eh, relatively speaking, it would be because that is the effect I’d been left with after quite a few listens. This is the sort of record which reveals a ton of fine detail, endless caverns of personae to appreciate, and a brilliantly stylized sound yet it all floats through like a transient fog and reads a bit shorter than its respectable ~47 minute runtime. It might sound off-key to suggest that this Abhor album is an easy listen, an enjoyable thing that fundamentally entertains with its occult heavy metal inspired rhythms and dramatic keyboard work but it only speaks to the idea that this is a most classic act devoted to a vision which charms as much as it mystifies with its occult intent. What these fellowes do is nonetheless a specific niche which the general public does not deserve and though I give it a high recommendation it is decidedly a type of black metal to my own taste which thus far reads as one of the better releases from the band. Otherwise a moderate recommendation for the average fool.

Moderately high recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
ARTIST:ABHOR
TITLE:Sex Sex Sex (Ceremonia Daemonis Antichristi)
LABEL(S):Iron Bonehead Productions
RELEASE DATE:September 23rd, 2022

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