Thursday, 10 October 2019

CLAVICVLA - Sepulchral Blessing

Album: Sepulchral Blessing
Label: Cyclic Law
Catalogue no: 144th Cycle


      1.      Demonic Integration
      2.      Insorcist Will
      3.      Tiamat Skin
      4.      Angra Mainyu
      5.      Apocryphal Truth
      6.      Sepulchral Blessing

Without fear of exaggeration on my part, I can honestly say that ever since I returned to reviewing I’ve been very impressed with the quality and consistency of Fredric Arbour’s Cyclic Law label. Arbour, it appears, has a unique ability to zone in on industrial ambient acts that offer such music that goes beyond the normal run of the mill. And this latest release from Italy’s CLAVICVLA, available to pre-order now on the label website and Bandcamp (see links below), digs deeply into a wellspring of unwholesome inspiration and returns with some black ambient that truly uncovers the darkness dwelling in the hearts of both the world and mankind. The archaeology of civilisation has unearthed the ugly truth of humanity, and the earth has also yielded the monsters that once walked upon its surface – somehow, one feels there’s a link there, fanciful perhaps, but from what did we inherit our DNA in the first place?

‘Demonic Integration’ opens the account, and brings forth deep drones lifted from the very bowels of the earth, perhaps creatures or entities excavated from the musty pages of age-old grimoires, conjured by those who wish only the return of unmanifest chaos and darkness. Seismic rumbles and quakes accompany the arrival of archetypes made real, as howlings torn from the deeps swirl in sympathy at the disruption of nature. ‘Insorcist Will’, growls and mutters from within the darkness of the Evocation Chamber, as forms materialise out of the base matter of blood, mutilated sacrificial flesh, crushed bone, and impure motivations, and are given life by the essences of rare incenses. It is here that the pitch black takes on movement, barely seen or heard but keenly felt, as sharp and acridly pungent as the charnel house.

And perhaps what has been manifested is a creature from legend, the personification of primordial chaos, a beast of fearsome reputation, Tiamat herself. In ‘Tiamat Skin’ we come face to face with her, a terrifying apparition scaled in impenetrable hide, impervious to the weapons of man, immune to the entreaties of mere humans, and for whom mercy is a weakness. She is chaos incarnate, an agent of subversion, and destruction. The world crumbles as she wreaks havoc, laying low the mighty and lowly simultaneously, caring not for the light, only the darkness. Her growls and snarls shake the very foundations of the reality we have built around ourselves. Moreover, it means nothing to her.

Accompanying her is ‘Angra Mainyu’, the Zororastrian (Persian) spirit of utter destruction, the principle of carnage and extermination, whose home is night and maleficence, and whose polar opposite is day and enlightenment. Rumbles and growls, deep subterranean drones, and voices tinged with evil and antipathy, roil and coil around each other, combining their strengths and their malice and resentment. ‘Apocryphal Truth’ perhaps alludes to the real truth behind reality in general, and humanity in particular, as it is our base natures that define us after all – a fact that many are only too willing to shy away from. We are not, perhaps, creatures of light struggling to better ourselves or to ascend to our true spiritual place, but instead we are forever destined to remain mired in matter and material evil. That’s the lie that’s been told to us ever since we achieved self-consciousness, and this is the ugly truth being revealed.

‘Sepulchral Blessings’ is, figuratively and literally, the end of our journey. Figuratively, because it signals that death has embraced us and taken us into the folds of its voluminous robes, and that it has released us from the pain and fear of untimely destruction, and literally, because this is the last track on the album, a summation of all that has gone on before. It begins quietly enough, with an empty place where we seem to be floating, no longer engaged in the cares and concerns of life: over time it transforms, the seeming peace metamorphosing into a less salubrious state, one where the stirrings of an unhallowed existence begin to allow themselves to be felt and heard. Sheets of turbulent nuclear static, the stuff of the stars themselves, searingly hot and ever-moving, tear and rend without cease. This is the nightmare of humanity, the place we have called Hades, Sheol, Hell, or any number of other names in our history, but it is far more terrible than anything we could have imagined. This is our ultimate destiny, the destination we were always meant to go to from the very beginning.

This is a mighty debut, if debut it is – a thoroughly dark, miserable, and pitch black set of hymns to the baser nature of the universe, of all who reside in it, and the reality in which we find ourselves. It couldn’t be blacker if it tried – perhaps it would be better if we called it, to coin a phrase, ‘Blacker than Black’. Black is the absence of light – this is the absence of everything. This is an infinite void, completely devoid of light, hope, or a shred of matter; an abyss that, if it stared back at you, would mean instant annihilation.

Available in three versions: CD (500 copies), 12” black vinyl (300 copies), and digital download. Pre-order your copy from:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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