Paragon / Apparitia
Celestia’s new album Frigidiis… first perked my ears upon finding out that the incomparable Malefic of Xasthur was guesting on keyboards and synth. I figured there would be all sort of warped, broken, lo-fi sadness weeping all over the tracks. Not so, Malefic seems content to take a background role here, judiciously layering lush and melancholy synths only when necessary, just as content to leave an eerie silence when necessary. Is Celestia worthy of this nod from one of American black metal’s finest? I think so. Frigidiis Apotheosia is an album of Burzum-esque shade and dynamics, with flourishes of ornate funeral doom hearkening more to the old world majesty of a Candlemass or a Solitude Aeternus.
The vocals are a subhuman shriek and croak that seems more snake than man, completely at odds with the eerily regretful and beautifully violent jetstreams that Malefic and Noktu weave and intertwine. Synths and keyboards mimic the most hymnal lilts of the human voice, in jarring contrast to Noktu’s vocals. The guitars are either full of classic thrash goodness — even coming close to ready-for-prime time players like early Metallica and Darkthrone — or walls of buzzing, pronged grief. There are even dalliances with more melodic discord and feedback. The rhythm section plays with nimble restraint. Less is more. Who woulda thunk it? This music seems carefully and immaculately constructed.
Noktu knows how to put a song together that flows seamlessly like a sonic tapestry, rather than a slapdash Frankenstein, and with Celestia attempts to evoke a wider palette of emotion without having to revert to vulgar pastiche. And the whole fucking album just sounds really confident, even though it’s the confidence of knowing that you’ve taken JUST enough pills to overdose. Frigidiis… is well-structured and varied while still keeping some essential ugliness. I will warn you though, sometimes the music is too clean and buffed to a shine. A fine effort, nonetheless.
Paragon Records: www.paragonrecords.net