Cultus Profano

Album Title: 
Sacramentum Obscurus
Release Date: 
Friday, February 23, 2018
Review Type: 

Cultus Profano is the name of a new entity from the Californian city of Los Angeles. It is meant to promote cocktails on the beach, fast cars and colourful bath fashion… Not! No, it is an outfit by Arthur Mendiola aka Advorsus, knows as (former or current) drummer (and vocalist) in e.g. Sadistic Intent, Vesterian or Blaskyrkh. He joined forces with (female) guitarist / vocalist Strzyga with Cultus Profano as moniker. At the end of 2016, the duo released a first demo-tape, which was called Sacramentum Obscurus, consisting of three epics that simply pay tribute to the Old Gods! It was, by the way, released through the small American label Arduous Path Recordings in a very limited edition. It was only the start for something greater to come…

…and now that time has come! This two-piece now offers the audience their first full length album, also called Sacramentum Obscurus (cf. the demonstrational recording from 2016). The three tracks from that demo, by the way, do appear on this monumental album too – but that’s for later. Sacramentum Obscurus is a nine-tracker, being released on compact disc (digipack), vinyl (12”) and digital via French cult-label Debemur Morti Productions. The recording duties were taken care of by Scott Fuller (apparently he’s part of the Morbid Angel line-up right now!), who did some more studio work for acts like Abysmal Dawn (he used to be a member for a while), Hemotoxin, Barren Altar, his own outfit Errorgeist, Tyranny Enthroned, etc., while both the final mix and mastering were done by former Keen Of The Crow singer Metal Dan Ochoa. Oh yes, mind the excellent (cover) artwork (!), courtesy of Altar Of Sorrow

This album brings forty-two minutes of so-called ‘Orthodox’ Black Metal (I do not like that moniker; I’d rather call it Second Wave-styled – so let’s start all over again…). This album brings forty-two minutes of Second Wave-styled Black Metal, very Nineties oriented in song writing, performance and sound. When talking about the latter, the sound, I cannot but praise the production. Sacramentum Obscurus sounds oh so raw and rough, unpolished and totally anti-clinical. This is the only way this kind of old styled Black Metal must sound like! The fine thing is that the mix is of a superb level. All instruments are well-balanced as result. There are no guitars that overrule the other strings, or bass lines that fade away into a mish-mash of pulp. No, the equilibrium of every detail has been worked out with care for detail.

Composition-wise, the duo plays somewhat conventional stuff, lacking originality (f*ck originality!), yet not simply copycat-wise. Advorsus and Strzyga try to give an own twist to their sonic terror. The result is quite varying in tempo. Most parts are fast, and then I mean everything in between up-tempo and semi-blasting, including a few pyroclastic eruptions. Yet there’s room as well for some grandiose decelerations. In a very organic way, Cultus Profano easily succeed to inject their fierce outbursts with slow to mid-tempo sections. That’s a cool thing, for it strengthens the grim atmosphere. That atmosphere indeed has something grim (here too, evidently, the sound quality has its influence), little occult, sinister, obscure and demonic. It breathes the essence of a timeless tradition for sure.

The content is based on melodious structures and pushing rhythms. The whole rhythm instrumentation fiercely supports a basement of melodic strings, which include a few fine lead performances. Once in a while, these ones get injected by hypnotic intermezzi, or broken by sudden tempo-changes. Vocal-wise, the nocturnal atmosphere gets uplifted by the icy and scorching screams of Strzyga, supported by somewhat deeper growling screams of Advorsus. There are even some choir-like injections, like at the very end of this album. Also the start is fine, with a very short introduction that comes with Gregorian chants, bells (cf. the very end I just mentioned) and that shit, before, soon after, exploding into a whirlwind of bleak, conjuring elegance.

Highly recommended!