The Black: “Peccatis Nostris/Capistrani Pugnator” CD

After four years of relative silence, The Black has hit back hard with a meaty double album. Whilst both slabs of mysticism explore a different concept they are still very much bound by their signature sound. Thus, the Latin lyrics are thrust forth with a wall of menacing guitars. However, the band has relinquished their progressive tendencies in favour of a bare bones Doom Metal approach in a way that only the Italians know how. The first instalment is a sojourn into the seven deadly sins of Dante Alighieri and each composition corresponds to a respective transgression. The album opens with a simple, yet no less ominous, flurry, as the claws of the devil slowly sink into human flesh. Thereafter, it is a downward spiral to hell, at times slow, at times gathering momentum and fluctuating like an obese man’s pulse. This rhythm is pivotal making for a stimulating and varied descent. The Black really come into their own on “Avaritia” and “Luxuria” where they let loose some incredible leads. However, it is the truly apocalyptic “Ira” that signals the end. Damnation hangs in the air, the sinner doomed and all hope abandoned long ago. The second instalment follows directly after the first and not without justification. The similarities in approach soon become clear and the reduced packaging as a single CD rather than a DCD or two single CDs benefits the pocket of both the label and their customer base. That said, if like me, you prefer to tackle albums as a whole and on an individual basis then it would be wise to pursue two separate sittings. Seventy-six minutes of music is overbearing by the standards of most folk and it would be a tragedy to lose interest in either or both of them simply because of the length alone. Anyway, after a lively introduction, which is partially marred by some irritating effects, the album proper takes on a life of its own. The bursts of speed are generally fewer and farther between, with the exception of the racy “Miserere” because as a rule, “Capistrani Pugnator” delves into a blacker enigmatic landscape. The vocals are equally sparse, allowing more space for the music to lead, yet where they do assume prominence they have an almost medieval dimension thanks to choice guest vocal contributions. The briefer “Date Illi Honorem” acts a prelude to the grandiose title track and between them they constitute over half of the record. This latter part, also the stronger, is fluid, melodic and haunting with a touch of the sinister lurking beneath the surface. Finally, the unusual illustrations adorning the sleeve, created by the guitarist and vocalist, Mario Di Donato, deserve a special mention because visually, they mirror and complement the concepts contained within the music. The Black is visionary and undoubtedly an acquired taste but one worth sampling if you crave darkness.

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