Symphonic black metal has been seeing a quiet renaissance, with Cradle of Filth re-establishing themselves as a dominating force in black metal once again, and Emperor’s live appearances helping remind everyone why their mixture of symphonic and progressive black metal became so revered. Meanwhile, in the underground, bands such as Necronautical and Ethereal have released records that have made people sit up and take notice. US one-man act Son ov Leviathan are a new entry on to the scene, with Vi Veri Vniversum Visus Vici demonstrating a more ferocious take on the genre than might typically be expected, with devastating results.
There’s no easing in to this album, no gentle introductory track or build-up. Opener ‘Benevolence for the Antichrists Benedictions’ launches straight in to a full-blooded attack, its furious riffs and relentless drums accompanied by dramatic keyboards. The keys take the melodic lead more often than not throughout the album, lending the album a sense of grandeur and drama that it would otherwise lack, as if Vi Veri Vniversum Visus Vici were the soundtrack to some forbidden Satanic rite – which, given its unflinchingly blasphemous lyrics and devotion to black metal form (just see the multiple uses of ‘ov’ in the song titles), is absolutely fitting.
This none-more-Satanic nature is both the greatest strength and weakness of the album. There’s no doubting the devotion of Son Ov Leviathan, and the passion displayed throughout Vi Veri Vniversum Visus Vici means that it has every chance of winning over a host of converts. Yet it’s hard not to feel that the album can be a bit overwhelming, with its vast synths and ferocious guitars and vocals making it feel like a large, imposing, intimidating listen. By the time it’s done, it’s hard not to feel slightly exhausted.
That said though, if you’re after symphonic black metal that is far more ferocious than normal, with none of the airy female vocals or melodramatics that usually weigh the genre down, then Vi Veri Vniversum Visus Vici will be just what you’re after. It may not do anything vastly new with the genre, but such is the conviction and passion of the album, it’s not really an issue. This is an album for those with the blackest of hearts, who have sold their souls to the beings that lurk in places unseen; the soundtrack to churches ablaze and heaven torn asunder.
Vi Veri Vniversum Visus Vici can be downloaded via Bandcamp.