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Review: Mortifera - Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera
Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera

Label: Goatowarex
Year released: 2004
Duration: 34:40
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: February 13, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Readers Rating
Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera

Rated 3/5 (60%) (8 Votes)

With Mortifera, two of France's most prolific Black Metal artists have joined forces to deliver a crushingly depressive slab of rotten Black Metal in the form of Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera. Neige of Alcest and Peste Noire fame, and Noktu Geiistmortt, owner of Drakkar Productions and member of Celestia, capitalize on their individual abilities to craft eerie and depressive Black Metal and drag together the sounds of these bands to produce a unique combination of beauty and desperation.

The most immediately noteworthy aspect of Mortifera are the vocals of Neige, especially on "Le Revenant" and "Aux Confins des Tenebrss " where his trademark eardrum shattering screeches lend an atmosphere of terrible desperation to the songs — it really is unbelievable that the sounds coming out of his mouth are being made by a human, they are just insane! For those familiar with Celestia's Frigidiis Apotheosia, Noktu's vocals here are much harsher and blackened than the high pitched screaming of that album, and for my money, sound much better even if they are a little more generic.

Kicking off with "Fvrahgments", an instrumental track filled with wonderful melodic bass lines and the familiar open chord style riffs and airy melodies of the members other bands, Mortifera sets the scene for the rest of the album very nicely, establishing atmosphere without relying on the vocals to give obvious cues. Further into the album we encounter the acoustic interlude of "Epilogue D'une Existence de Cryssthal", perfectly placed for its ultimate melancholy to have maximum effect before fading into the Alcest styled dirge of "Ciel Brouillé". It should come as no surprise that there is a heavy Alcest influence at work on Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera (although it is more accurate to say that the songwriting here influenced Alcest seeing as Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde would be released almost three years after this), with "Fvrahgments", "Le Revenant", and "Ciel Brouillé" all being penned by Neige, but even the tracks written by Noktu, such as the absurdly titled "Abstrbve Negabvtiyon Rebssurectyion" with its LLN-styled random vowels, also have that dreamy melancholic feeling. However, this album is decidedly Black Metal in feel, leaning much closer to DSBM than the shoe-gaze inspired reverie of Alcest, and this changes the overall atmosphere to one of oppressive sorrow. The tracks here are cold, a feeling aided by the highly dissonant and crisp guitar production, inhuman vocals, and sparse black booklet with its graveyard aesthetic, put the listener firmly in a world of desperation teetering upon the lip of an open grave. It is a bit odd that they chose to close the album with a cover from Noktu's main band Celestia with "Fruits of a Tragic End", and while it does fit with the overall feel of Vastiia... it also highlights the similarities between this project and the members' side projects.

So overall what we have here is a bit of a curiosity. It is definitely highly atmospheric depressive Black Metal that fans of any of Neige's or Noktu's other bands will enjoy very much (except perhaps of fans of Alcest who might be put off by the harshness of this album), but it is also different enough to draw in those who might not be partial to more traditional Black Metal.

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