Ad Luciferi Regnum proves to be faster, fuller and far more evil than what we've previously heard from Swedish black metallers Vanmakt. With all the trendy black metal that has been bandied about from the cold north in recent years, it is a relief to hear another band playing with sustained energy and conviction. When Vanmakt floated their demo on the internet, they were contacted by (current label) Pulverised within only two hours of it's appearance!
What is it about this release making it stand out in such a populated genre? It's hard to say. Much of what's on offer is to be found elsewhere, but not necessarily so consistently well executed. The vocals are mostly high end, full of spitting hate and anger. The guitar work is mostly quite high end as well, imperious black, sliding riffs threading together minor chords of despair, too fast for sorrow, retaining a full quotient of melody. This album was done with a session drummer, and at the speed at which much of album is played one has to ask the question: do they wear their drummers out? Vanmakt had to forego a tour due to the last drummer's sickness - unspecified: was it complete exhaustion? Running throughout this release is a speedblast drum matrix with full and mid-tempo instrumentation over the top layers which lend it a naive complexity - Endless Myth is a good example.
A superficial listening may remind one of Belphegor in shredding for Satan mode, which is not necessarily an insult. Vanmakt though, has no time for catchiness.
The title track does have a 'straight-into-it' beginning, redolent of classic Darkthrone, but the comparison definitely dies there. Raise your fist in the air to the hellish fury of Brethren of Lucifer or the cold calculation of Id XIII Inferno.
I didn't expect to hit an acoustic patch, but The Ascension provided one. Not only is it acoustic, but the really well executed female vocals give the impression of a satanic love song. Beautiful, really.
The only thing missing is a fully represented low end. While the bass is readily discernible, the release does suffer from low-end anaemia, allowing some to label it as a bit 'digital'. It's a shame really, as the rest of the production values seem so meticulously sharp.
But, all said Ad Luciferi Regnum is an album that lives up to the artwork - fiery, damned and worthy of a spot of church immolation.
Vanmakt's Ad Luciferi Regnum is out now on Pulverised/Amphead.