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aetheriusobscuritas viziokOne-man Hungarian black metal: how much more obscure can one get?  Paragon Records excel at unearthing hidden gems like Aetherius Obscuritas, aka Arkhorrl, who handles all vocals and instruments except drums.  Americans seem to have a lock on one-man BM (Xasthur, Leviathan, Krohm, et al.), which lends itself to misanthropic introspection – slower, psychedelic, in need of Prozac.

Aetherius Obscuritas is not like this.  In fact, it sounds rather Norwegian.  Of course, "true" black metal, whatever that means, will always reference its Norwegian roots.  Arkhorrl, however, is particularly adept with the cold, snowy sounds that usually emanate only from Norge.

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This project sounds like a band; blastbeats are plentiful, and the riffs are majestic.  In fact, this is some of the most melodic black metal in recent memory.  Not melodic as in watered down, or infused with impurities like rock 'n' roll or Swedish melodeath.  These are grand, fist-pumping riffs that toast fallen warriors and light torches in their honor.  If the execution and production is a little raw for such ambition – well, it wouldn't be black metal otherwise.

The fact that this "band" outperforms most actual ones is a testament to Arkhorrl's vision.  His songwriting is remarkably fluid, logically weaving melodies and harmonies.  Thoughtful acoustic guitar harmonies pop up occasionally.  Akrhorrl also has a penchant for quick, palm-muted runs that hint at a thrash background.  Such details add much-needed variation to an idiom that all too often lapses into blasting dronefests.

Only four of the 12 tracks here are in English; the rest are in Hungarian.  Of course, Arkhorrl's requisite black metal rasp renders this somewhat moot.  Still, the package feels more authentic in its native tongue.  This is solid, expressive black metal, a successful transplant from Odin's realm to the land of the Magyars.


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Aetherius Obscuritas official site
Paragon Records

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