Introitus


Skies Of The Unholy Departed

Serbia Country of Origin: Serbia

Skies Of The Unholy Departed
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Type: Full-Length
Release Date: November 20th, 1996
Genre: Black
1. Towards The Enchanting Dark
2. Crimson Night
3. Resurgent
4. Astral Crown (As The Hordes Gather)
5. Pale Bride Of The Black Wind
6. Damnation's Throne
7. I'm The Spirit That Caressed Eternity
8. On The Wings Of Holy Mist


Review by Carl on January 1, 2024.

In 1996, the pusboil that was black metal had definitely broken open, and the metal world was flooded with releases particularly from Scandinavia, but the smell of black putrefaction was starting to come from other countries as well. This dark miasma was primarily wafting from the western part of Europe, but in the eastern part of the continent there was trouble brewing as well. Poland was a pretty prolific purveyor of black metal, but the wave of grim bile had also reached the country of Serbia, which gave us Introitus, and their first (and only) full length.

On a purely musical level, this has no surprises on offer at all, because this is going to sound familiar to anyone who has heard more than three 90's black metal albums. The sound brought forth by these men bears noticeable traces of the early releases by acts such as Marduk, Dark Funeral, Enthroned and Abigor, to name a few. Relying for a good part on the by then well-established trope of tremelo picked chainsaw guitar riffing underpinned by sharp blast beat driven percussion in the fast parts, and alternating these with more atmospheric midtempo sections that remind me of Immortal's "Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism" debut album. It was a tried and tested approach to black metal, even back then, but Introitus manage to add some touches of their own to the mix, for instance in the vocals. Here, the usual croaking black metal scream approach is used for most part, but these are alternated with low growls at times, adding a slight death metal edge to the usual Scandinavian black metal style on offer, but a special mention for the excellent guitar work is in order too. The riffing is a bit more intricate than usual, with subtle hints of Swedish death metal melody woven through it, and there is made copious use of clean guitar as well. Examples of this are the middle part in album opener "Towards the Enchanting Dark", and the intermezzo's "Resurgent" and "Damnation's Throne", actually reminding me of late 80's/early 90's Metallica, actually. Because the music is further devoid of keyboards and female vocals, it seems that these clean guitars are the only atmospheric touches allowed into the black metal of Introitus.

I can imagine that black metal producers were not such a frequent occurence in Serbia in the mid 90's, so it will not come as a surprise that the soundmix on this album is on the unbalanced side, although it could have been a whole of a lot worse. Both the guitars and vocals are up front in the mix, and both sound great, actually. The problem is that the drums are for a good deal buried beneath them, making it hard to make out what is being played, causing some of the songs to sound unfocused because one can't really hear what's going on apart from the guitar. Another thing I found odd, was the static crackling that momentarily surfaces on occasion. At first I thought it was my speakers, but upon examining, it was on the cd itself. All in all, these flaws aren't such a big problem in the end, you can't have black metal sounding too perfect, right?

Introitus are indeed pioneers, and thus deserve to be recognized as such, because theirs is not a name uttered frequently enough. Despite the flaws in the production, this is a fairly good black metal release, even if it's a bit too melodic for my personal taste. When they go full bang, they seethe with malice, and when the foot is taken off the accelerator, the band knows how to build a fitting atmosphere. Add to this the excellent guitar work, and this is a very decent dose of underground 90's black metal. Too bad that it gets kinda undercut by a less than perfect balanced soundmix.

This is one of those buried releases from the 90's black metal scene that seems to be forgotten, and kind of undeserved, really. It may not have been an earth-shattering offering in the style, but there were far crappier acts walking around at that particular time. Keeping in mind their isolated position of being a black metal band from Serbia, the flaws present on their sole full album are easily forgiven in my book, and it would be a shame to totally disregard this album.

If you long back to those 90's black metal days, this should serve you well, and it's definitely worth checking out if you're into any of the bands mentioned above. It would be a shame if this one would fall between the cracks of time.

Rating: 7 out of 10

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