Blood Libels
Norma Evangelium Diaboli

having been accused first of “selling out” for appearing in full-color music rags and then of burning out on their sophomore record, De Principii De Evangelikum, France’s endangered black metal beast now give birth to their unholy third. Where one prescribes the flesh as the soul’s sacred domain, the other wields it as a parchment to inveigh against creation, praying, spitting, and spreading its course: “All that is great is built upon sorrow.”

Blood Libels reaffirms the group’s start opposite the more heady abstractions of co-conspirators Deathspell Omega. Melody is tempered through vivid motion, recycling a violent conquering of style. Upstrokes rake hopeless feeling across incessant blast-beaten rhythm, falling like copper shavings into an open sore. Influences range from Mayhem, nuclear punk classic Urga Kurma, and the ferocious battery of second-tier death metal acts like Angel Corpse.

Structure betrays a craft in tune with the adamantine will. The mordant efflorescence is reset through ambient refrains, suspiring in the aftermath or else opening like a valve between them as toxic pools reflect a fetid attraction to misery and imprisonment of the body—a spiritual negative condensed in the title track’s provocation to prove we’re “more than flesh.” As the tone of each album becomes increasingly sexualized, the lyrics yield to instinct while rejecting all sentimental justification. Antaeus, following Sade and Lautreamont, replace procreation with pestilence, self-gratification at the expense of spiritual fruit:
I cherish what I made of you,
Crowned and whipped
Blood collecting.
For how long will you come back to life?
I want to end your breath again and again
See me as saint
Canonize my name.
God-man lashed and abandoned at the foot of mankind. If fundamentalism offers the promise of a(b)solution paid for in blood’s redemptive power, then here blood is shed for it’s own sake:
I shall go on, wearing the burden of pain
Turning it, glorifying it.
For it didn’t limit the strong
For it didn’t stop the Evilution [sic]
For it just changed the process
And made the whole scheme higher.
There is nothing passive about Blood Libels. Exchanging rosary beads for razor blades, we see how they maintain the gifted machinery. Vocalist MKM leads the supplementing of suffering with spectacle. Humanity is no longer extant as scaly regeneration conflates with a wicked tongue, caustically undressing layers of apocalyptic verse.

Through this constant fusillade, Blood Libels achieves a leveling of the senses, a sound that does not carry but moves against you until the moment it fades with a dutiful screech of a blade against its whetstone. Find in that the rejection of life and lives sanctified about the knell of increasing hostility and intolerance in the world. It points toward no solution but instead glorifies the inevitable victory of death. There is nothing beautiful or validating here and yet its precision for form and mood gives pause for admiration. It is art as confrontation, offering nothing but bloody portals to ruin and the enticement to follow afterward.

Reviewed by: Todd DePalma
Reviewed on: 2006-11-28
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