Hailing from the mountainous region of Portugal comes Lacrau who present us with their debut full length titled Axioma. This is a beautifully written conceptual piece based around the old Scandinavian senicide ritual. For those unfamiliar, it was an old tradition where the elderly of the village or clan who were unable to take care of themselves, would throw them selves off of cliffs in order to help the village survive and prosper with out needing to worry about them. This story is told through wicked black metal riffs, ghastly vocals with some doom and more progressive influences thrown in.
Introducing you into this album is a five minute intro of a dark and dreary guitar passage that is able to translate that foreboding feeling of dread musically all to well. The following four tracks are split up like chapters to the story. Each of these songs express feelings of regret and sorrow as the character journeys up to the cliffside, describing the process and ritualism of it all, as well as that euphoric and blissful feeling of release and acceptance of ones own fate. All of this told in their native language of Portuguese and sung in a harsh, ghastly voice that sounds like its clawing out in pain. The guitars are your sort of typical atmospheric black metal affair, a little bit airy but still have that staticky edge that really give the guitars an extra edge to it. The riffs themselves are rather catchy, if a bit simplistic, but its certainly not a drawback. Lacrau are able to really weave in the emotion into the music and express those foreboding feelings in a rather clever and creative way. All of the tracks off this album run over five minutes but none of them stay their welcome or feel like they’re dragging on as tends what tends to happen with these kinds of albums. What helps is the story being told, as mentioned before, each track is like a chapter in the story, feeling separate and stand on their own, yet when put together they flow cohesively together and rather beautifully. The drums sound very stripped back, yet still very punchy and really gives those guitars that extra oomph that it needs.
This has been a rather surprising release for me as I kind of went into this with a bit of a bias. While, I do like black metal in the atmospheric and sorta melancholic doom metal realm, they all tend to fall into the same musical tropes and not really expand in terms of idea. Lacrau how ever, show a lot of potential with this release and have really shown themselves to be very talented artists who are able to take the foundations of this tried and true sound and make something that is uniquely theirs which is all one can hopefully ask for with this type of album. From the differing guitar riffs, progressive song writing and uniquely morbid concept, this album certainly caught my attention for the better.
Those who are die hard fans of black metal will certainly walk away enjoying this, as well as those who are outside of the genre and want a emotionally charged, yet heavy album, this one is certainly it.