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Review: Caliginosity - In Celebration of the Serpent
In Celebration of the Serpent

Label: Black Plague Records
Year released: 2008
Duration: 49:46
Tracks: 9
Genre: Black Metal


Review online: January 26, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
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Rated 3/5 (60%) (5 Votes)

"No novelty pictures, no member bio, only music and idealogy [sic] are important" — thus in his own words does Forrest, the man behind the one-man Caliginosity, declare his creed. Doesn't leave a reviewer much to work with for an introduction does it?

What we have here is some cut back, lo-fi Black Metal that takes its cues from the USBM scene, as well as some old school misanthropes like Burzum and Celtic Frost. The music is slow without exception, never raising above what might generously be called "mid-paced", and this goes a long way toward generating the not inconsiderable atmosphere evoked on this disc. In fact, if it weren't for the overarching Black Metal feel of the album you could almost call this Doom since it is so slow, but you won't mistake this for the tortured shrieking of Nortt or other blackened doom luminaries — this is more like if My Dying Bride were doing Black Metal. Forrest double-tracks pretty much all the vocal lines, with the left speaker representing a half-whispered half-raspy voice, and the right speaker giving us a coarser, distorted half-whispered half-raspy voice (which gets particularly annoying on "Suicide Seduction"). Yeah, there's not a lot of variation going on in the vocal department.

The production is mostly poor — the guitars are a little muffled, although listenable, and occasionally provide some interesting riffing. The drums are programmed and you can really hear the synthetic sound, especially on the snare which sounds a bit like a B-grade movie punch-in-the-face sound effect. The bass is way too loud in the mix which is a shame because it's not doing anything interesting; it feels like the intention of having the bass loud was to try and present a crushing atmosphere, like, say, that of Skepticism or Catacombs, but it doesn't work at all, especially with the flat drum tone weakly carrying it along. There are occasional keyboard flourishes which do a good job of adding some variation to the plodding songs (see "A Decembers Lament"), but their appearances are infrequent and they don't hang around long either — a bit of a lost opportunity.

The songwriting is largely pretty straightforward riffing with some arpeggio chord play over the top, driven by the above mentioned uninspired drum tracks, and those dry vocals. Opener "Ages of Hopeless End" starts the album well with some unnerving slow tremolo riffing and some decent melody work, and "Upon My Silent Grave" has some nice Celtic Frost inspired riffing and a mid section that manages to capture some small part of funereal oppression, but after that you realize that's all there is to it, and the album repeats the same open picked chords and slow rumbling bass until album coda. A brief exception is the short instrumental "Quietus" which manages to capture a doomy feel inline with Nightfall-era Candlemass that Forrest thankfully didn't try and work into a full song. But on the whole this is Xasthur taken to the next level of uninteresting — misanthropy need not be so overwhelmingly drab - there are legions of Black Metal releases that testify to that. Caliginosity are not really bad; there are occasional sparks of interesting riffage and the keyboards occasionally perk the ears, but Forrest really pushes the muffled oppression angle, and, while it generates an appropriate atmosphere, it becomes too much after a while, with one song abruptly ending and rolling into another one with little fanfare or variation.

Fans of this kind of slow plodding Black Metal may take away more from it than I did — it does manage to capture a general feeling of distaste toward humanity after all, but everyone else can pretty safely walk on by.

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