Submitted for your approval: In Cauda Venenum. Hailing from France, this act is here to bring “atmospheric black metal inspired by life, art, utopism, fatalism, & inheritance.” There is a superb layering of instrumentation happening here that is full without becoming an amorphous blob. The production is reminiscent of late 80's thrash and 2nd wave black metal. While these are choices known for their grit and “kvlt”ness, the decision (or perhaps necessity) really allows each instrument to come through clearly in the mix.
But more impressive than these aesthetic choices is the songwriting. There are plenty who would shy away from an album that is made up of two 21 minute tracks. In this case, they would be fools. Each song is filled with different movements and varied pacing from the slow and sorrowful to the fast and vengeful. And while it is not Viking metal, there are certain moments where the marching power chords reminded me of Bathory's Nordland. I have heard my share of lengthy tracks that had me checking my watch, but In Cauda Venenum had me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next.
Taking a deeper look at the individual parts at play, there is a lot going on. You've got the tortured shrieks and occasional baritone singing that lingers in the distance. Those who have listened to Downfall of Nur can expect a pretty similar quality and level in the mix. I appreciate that unlike a lot of atmospheric black metal, they are still loud and clear enough to make out. Then you have the guitar work. There are some cool, doomy bass parts as well as a breadth of lead riff styles always shifting and changing. Foreboding high-pitched tremolos, grim chord progressions, solos, clean post-metal interludes...each flowing seamlessly into the next with the help of some keen drumwork.
Ultimately, like its cover, this debut is a work of art that celebrates both beauty and the macabre. If one needed a starting point in transitioning from the typical 3-5 minute song to something with a bit more girth, this would not be a bad choice. Check it out for yourself on bandcamp. It's only 5 Euro to add it to your collection.