Crux Lupus Corona: reaching back into classic Sixties and Seventies rock and metal for inspiration

Inconcessus Lux Lucis, Crux Lupus Corona, I, Voidhanger Records, CD EP IVR-037 (2014)

2014 is shaping up as a watershed year for black metal and metal generally with lots of releases from new or hitherto unknown bands that draw inspiration from music genres including metal itself from as far back as the Sixties and Seventies. Step forward Inconcessus Lux Lucis whose particular brand of BM draws from classic metal riffing and folk melody.

Starting with a swanky rolling introduction, mostly instrumental with some spoken vocal heralding an assault on the Christian religion, and a tango of spidery whining noise guitar and cleaner, dark guitar tones in the background (“Via Dolorosa”), the duo launch into the hurried “Crux” which is a fairly light track texturally and nearly coming undone with the fussy lyrics – the vocalist barely keeps up with the music – but featuring plenty of energetic riffs and howling solo guitar or scrabbly lead fingerwork, and coming across as very enthusiastic and determined. There’s enough fuzz on the guitars and enough lurid crucifixion imagery and suffering to more than justify the BM tag. “Lupus” appears to be more respectably traditional BM with rhythms that lend themselves to the tremolo guitarwork and blast-beat pummelling but the song unexpectedly sets off on a jaunty rock’n’roll groove path that leads it into by-ways of sparkling lead guitar folk melody squiggle and supporting all-male choruses. “Corona” may not be quite as aggressive or energetic as the other tracks – by now, the ILL guys might have pulled out every rabbit they’ve got in their collective hat – but it still boasts some good folk-influenced melodies and rhythms, and the lead guitar playing recalls the glory moments of Seventies rock and metal with a bit of death metal blast-beat discipline to keep everything on the straight and narrow track.

All songs are short and tight and yet they’re packed with so much rhythm, catchy folk tunes and varied percussion, they actually seem longer than they are. The surprisingly light nature of the essential guitars-n-drums set-up – you can hear as much dark space within the songs as the instrumentation itself, even though the guys don’t pause at all or slow down – allows the musicians to showcase their talent for improvisation as well as playing as a tight unit during breaks in the singing. The drums probably could be a bit more prominent and a little sharper to complement the singing, especially during those moments when the vocalist pauses and the drummer gets a chance to hit the tom-toms and snare hard. The clean production means that everything can be heard very clearly. There is scope within the music for ambient background effects here and there but ILL may have deliberately chosen to waive the use of effects.

This is a very creditable work from ILL, very consistent in its execution and style. I concede that at this early stage in their career, ILL are trying hard to impress their label and this attitude seems to affect the music here: it’s very busy and there’s no time for relaxation, it’s all hard work all the way through! On later recordings the duo can find time and space to craft a style that is more varied and relying more on atmosphere, emotion and taking risks.

Contact: I, Voidhanger Records