Iubaris – Magnum Coeptum Satanicum

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Review by Jason Guest

Combining classical influences with black metal to produce an anti-religious and mystical sound that is at once both fiercely intense and darkly atmospheric, the unholy onslaught of Poland’s Iubaris is black metal intensity that delivers as much in the way of diversity as it does in atmospherically charred soundscapes. First released as two separate EPs – 2011’s Ars Sathanae I and 2012’s Ars Sathanae II – Iubaris have recently signed with Black Death Productions and released both as a compilation (with the EPs in reverse order) supplemented by acoustic versions of two tracks from the second EP.

Beginning with 2012’s Ars Sathanae II, this compilation picks up where Iubaris left us in 2011 with Ars Sathanae I: delving into ever-darkening depths. The demonic drums of ‘The Winnowing’ give the fiery riffs and Antares’s venomous vocals an almost industrial feel. It’s the band’s ear for melody that makes ‘Swamp Fall Burial’. The folky, melodic guitar motif that drives the track along with the bass and vocal melodies is striking, the elaborate structure giving the band space to exploit its potency. The devastating beauty of ‘Day of December’ combines the band’s abilities for brutality with an atmospheric mid-section that is no less intense, the guitars working together to create melodies, harmonies, and discordant darkness that are as beautiful as they are tearing. Dragging the tempo down, the weight of the air permeating ‘Terra Incognita’ is of a leaden gravity, the frosted guitars as shards of glass: sharp, callous, and hollow as the water and wind that segue into the EP’s title track, an ambient piece that is haunting and chilling, the solitary keyboard sound reverberating in a cold, empty hollow.

From 2011’s Ars Sathanae I, the unholy onslaught of ‘Antigod’ is diabolic piece laden with blast beat riffs, arpeggiated acrimony, and Antares’s venomous vocals, a remarkable introduction that makes a clear declaration of the band’s prowess and intention. The black metal gallop of ‘Rising Flame’ is as savage as it is focussed and takes the boundaries established in ‘Antigod’ and stretches them further, the melodic might fleshed out with a clean melodic mid-section that segues back into the blackened blitzkrieg. Slow, lingering and atmospheric, ‘The Journey’ sees the guitars earing at each other in the barren landscape. And the down-tempo menace of ‘Rebirth’ is an overwhelmingly atmospheric piece featuring some magnificently cold and melodic bass work from Vulpus. Like Ars Sathanae I, this EP concludes with an ambient piece that is every bit as haunting and chilling as its counterpart. The two acoustic pieces – ‘The Journey’ and ‘Rebirth’ – are both haunting, the depth afforded them by the reverb compliments the melodies and the ominous air of the two pieces rounds out this compilation with a harrowing note.

The band’s song craft is first-rate, the structures are superb, and the atmospheric aspects of the tracks echoing in the reverbs and layered guitar effects are so heavy as to be near tangible. The musicianship is outstanding. Antares’ guitar work is broad in its range and dynamic scope; Vulpus’s sharp, trebly bass growls ferociously beneath the melodic guitars, his behemoth lines underpinning the gravitas while Kabuka’s dynamic drumming is at once nuanced and powerful. A well-balanced and magnificent collection, Magnum Coeptum Satanicum presents a band that is as diverse as it is adept in black metal intensity, in scorched landscapes, and in ambient atmospheres. Highly recommended.

8.5 out of 10

Iubaris - Magnum Coeptum SatanicumTrack Listing:

  1. The Winnowing
  2. Swamp Fall Burial
  3. Day of December
  4. Terra Incognita
  5. Ars Sathanae II
  6. Antigod
  7. Rising Flame
  8. The Journey
  9. Rebirth
  10. Ars Sathanae
  11. The Journey (Acoustic)
  12. Rebirth (Acoustic)