Review by Felix on May 28, 2023.
The endless spheres of the world wide web made it possible that I stumbled over the title track of "Lunaris" some months ago. I had never heard about this obviously talented formation from Poland before, but this song caught my attraction very quickly. Arkona, another band of the highly interesting Debemur Morti label (Arckanum, Behexen, Haemoth...), seemed to stand for constantly flowing black metal with a pretty diabolic atmosphere. Limbonic Arts came to my mind reflexively, although I am quite not sure whether they are the right reference in this context. Yet the affinity of Arkona to pen excessive black metal songs with an average duration of eight minutes ensures a certain proximity to the Norwegian pioneers of the mid-nineties.
All songs convey a continuously demonic, somewhat majestic feeling, because the dark guitar lines take effect, no matter what's the velocity. The album commutes between blast beats and mid-paced velocity. Tempo changes and breaks are carefully selected and their sole purpose is to increase the force of the respective track. Needless to say that the vocals are aligned with the musical approach and therefore one listens to a hoarse, raw and pretty expressive vocal performance. Arkona do not have a singer who prefers high-pitched tones like Schmier or the falsetto of King Diamond, but he is able to interpret the tried and tested formula of the sub genre very well. By the way, the singer is just a session vocalist. I recommend a further engagement, yet I have heard that these black metal freaks do not accept a God, not even me. But that's beside the point.
Just like Limbonic Art, the Polish horde integrates keyboards without triggering a loss of quality by doing so. The synthetic sounds create or underline the eerie atmosphere which keeps the songs of "Lunaris" together. Even a piano shows up during the fourth track and evokes a nice contrast to some vehement blast beats that follow the soft intermezzo. This is another stylistic device which is neither innovative nor surprising, but once again, the band makes very good use of the sub genre's toolbox. And they have the good fortune to offer their songs with a very dense sound which creates a profound heaviness. There can be no doubt that the production does not leave much room for improvement in terms of clean brutality (and you hopefully know what I want to say). Thus, the pretty triumphant yet dark melodies have found a biotope where they are able to develop magnificently.
As a result of all these characteristics, "Lunaris" is another strong Debemur Morti release and a more than competitive album. The Polish underground seems to guard some treasures, for example the blackened thrashers of Ragehammer, the slightly obscure black legion of Deus Mortem and, naturally, Arkona. Although they sing about a "corpse pale moon", I am sure that they can bring more colour into the life of a black metal maniac. If not, the endless spheres of the world wide web will give the possibility to test something else.
Rating: 8 out of 10392