It’s rare that I find a group that would be equally as at home touring with Hopesfall as Taake. Sure, there are plenty of post-black outfits that inject some indie and hardcore ethos into their blastbeat-driven sound, but the pure spacey post-rock riffs of tracks like “Hyperbole of Senses” forego the word fusion. Rather, they are given their own unmolested space while the black metal vocals do the same. Each seems to exist fully within its own genre while creating a true duality of beauty and ugliness.
Hailing from Chile, Animus Mortis play a highly emotive, guitar and drum driven brand of music. While they are often listed as black metal, I think the closest tag would be post metal. The combination of the jangly rhythm guitar chords and slow, sorrowful picked lead melodies is blissful rather than grim. It’s the sort of melancholy that leads to introspection and new outlook. Meanwhile the drums construct an ever-changing landscape of textures with double bass, tom fills, blastbeats, ear-catching cymbal patterns, and just an overall sense of both the technical and the memorable.
The vocals come in two major flavors: almost folky baritone singing/chanting and echoed howls and growls. The former often reminded me of early Borknagar, albeit more subdued and less theatrical. Whatever comparisons they might conjure, I find these parts to be quite soothing. The harsh vocals, on the other hand, have a much more cavernous, evil quality. They seem to contort the very fabric of the music with songwriting shifting markedly into ominous minor keys and the drums becoming increasingly aggressive. A good example is on “Manuscripts,” where the aforementioned peace between the black and the beautiful devolves temporarily into a spiraling chasm of darkness.
Honestly, every track on this album is a winner in some way. I was drawn into each on my very first listen with the one-two punch of varied songwriting and striking hooks. Each subsequent listen only grew in lushness and gratification. While it may sound sappy, Testimonia takes me away to a different place. A place where my feelings flow more freely and tears of both joy and regret threaten to burst forth at any moment. But enough of my self-righteous pontification. Check the album out for yourself on bandcamp. It’s only 7 Euro if you feel as strongly about it as I did.