In Manus Satanas
Review by Felix on November 7, 2019.
Italian food, Swedish girls and Finnish black metal have one thing in common – they are always welcome. Well, don’t know what I would choose if I could only have one of these three (and to be honest, I never kissed a Swedish girl so far…), but maybe there is a time for everything. So right now, my fridge is empty and no lady from Stockholm far and wide – that’s why I dedicate myself to the next chapter of the 10.000-page book namely “Sinister Suomi Sounds”.
The cauldron of Aegrus is filled with a boiling brew to the brim. I mean we have a certain picture before the inner eye whenever we hear “Italian Food” (spaghettis or pizza), “Swedish girl” (blond, sporty beauty) or “Finnish black metal”. And you find exactly the things in the band’s cauldron that comes to your mind when being confronted with these three words. This does not mean that the dudes dish up rancid, old songs, definitely not. Yet they mix the well-known stylistic devices in a really competent way. Straight hammering parts meet mystic, cold melodies, the lead vocalist conveys this possessed-by-demons-insanity that we love, and the malicious atmosphere of the material gives rise to various scenarios: frostbitten forests, icy storms over barren fields, cold lakes at night, burning stakes and endless grey, cloudy horizons. Indeed, the formation does not seek for new ways of performing black metal; and there is no necessity to do such foolish thing. The Scandinavians focus on the right approach. They know that they are well advised to keep the basic formula of the music unchanged – and the rest is just a matter of personal skills.
The band demonstrates its impressive abilities in particular at the beginning of the album. The vehement opener sets the course and both “Nightspirit Theosis” and “Gestalt of Perdition” score with nearly perfect combinations of comparatively mild sections and utterly cold outbursts. Aegrus also manage rather hypnotic mid-tempo pieces such as “Ascending Shadows” and especially this track leads the listener to abysmal ravines. The instrumental parts of this song reflect isolation and despair in an exciting way, not at least because of the technical execution. In Manus Satanas does not suffer from a lukewarm sound, quite the opposite. The album offers the typical black metal pitch in a powerful manner – and even the most rapid parts do not end up in a blurred disarray. The band never loses control and so the album is free from flops. By contrast, it holds some uncompromising, simple yet highly effective riffs which demonstrate that the guitarists don’t intend to score only with more or less harmonic leads.
In view of many comparable albums, we can discuss whether or not this album is essential. Probably there is a chance to survive without having ever heard a single note of In Manus Satanas. Nevertheless, life is more enjoyable when one can listen to such a full-length from time to time. It sounds authentic (even though its melodies have a certain Swedish touch), natural and passionate yet well-defined. Maybe it’s an ironic twist of fate, but especially the high number of excellent guitar melodies – a kind of counterpart to the raw voice – fascinates me and the fact that the average velocity meets the usual genre standards is also very welcome. (By the way, I still did not kiss a Swedish girl.) Of course, I could write about improvable nuances, for example 5% more compactness or something like that, but honestly speaking, it just feels good to see the torch of black metal burning as on the first day. Hail to the Finnish hordes (and to N.P. to whom I dedicate this review)!
Rating: 9 out of 10