ABHOR – Occulta ReligiO LP
ABHOR are a veritable institution of Italian black metal. Formed in 1995 in the northeast of Italy, the band began with a passion for black metal music and the study of esoteric arts. Less like a band and more like a congregation, ABHOR represent a form of global art that embraces musical art, visual art, and literal art. Their first musical manifestation came in 1998, with the first demo tape In Tuo Honori Preparatum. From there, ABHOR were off and running, subsequently releasing six albums with a variety of labels, doing honorable underground work. Within their ranks came many musicians, including members of compatriots Evol.
Throughout their sizable and uniformly high-quality discography, ABHOR have come to define post-millennial Italian black metal, driving deeply into a self-styled sound of Esoteric Horror Black Metal. Their last two albums, in particular – 2011’s Ab Luna Lucenti, ab Noctua Protecti and 2015’s Ritualia Stramonium, both critically acclaimed – proved that the band have only become more masterful at this more mature stage, and they carry forward that blazing-purple torch with Occulta religiO.
A work of bewitching mysticism and beyond-the-veil secrecy, Occulta religiO is black metal of an unmistakably ancient vintage. Neither regressive nor progressive, ABHOR simply conjure a now-trademark sound that ably balances doomed-out traditionalism, sinister textural layering, and impassioned playing. It all reaches a fever pitch on Occulta religiO, where the concepts of occultism, esotericism, alchemy, witchcraft, Satanism, and dark folklore are given flight on leathery wings. Spooky and spelunking, ABHOR here create seven spells in a compact 40 minutes, entrancing the listener with seamless ease, indeed vividly capturing the medieval sensations running through such songs as “Black Bat Recalls,” “Engraved Formulas,” “Demons Forged From the Smoke,” and the all-too-telltale opener “Elemental Conjuring.”
Buried by time and dust, ABHOR are not. Some spirits just linger through every epoch, and there you will find Occulta religiO.
Released by Iron Bonehead, 2018
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