Domus Mysterium

Written by: AP on 07/11/2017 22:51:02

Slægt began as an orthodox black metal act in 2011, with vocalist/guitarist Oskar J. Frederiksen as the sole member, and based on the output (a 4-song demo, a split 7” with White Medal and eventually the full-length “Ildsvanger” in 2015, for which he enlisted the talent of former Reverie drummer Adam Kjær Nielsen, seemed destined for the murkiest sewers of extreme metal. But once 200 cassette tapes containing the album had been issued, Frederiksen must have felt that a change was in order; two new musicians in the form of Olle Bergholz (bass) and Andreas M. Jørgensen (lead guitar) were brought into the fold and soon after, Slægt released the radically different “Beautiful and Damned” EP, heralding the onset of a new, more ambitious era in which black and heavy metal become conjoined. As you might expect then, this latest album, “Domus Mysterium”, elaborates further on the ideas set in motion by its predecessor and in doing so, emerges as one of the most unique cuts of metal that Denmark has birthed since Mercyful Fate and King Diamond.

The fusion of the two genres is not unique in itself, as anyone familiar with Tribulation will be quick to point out. But on “Domus Mysterium”, the contrast between them is starker, as evidenced already by the opening duo; the instrumental “Succumb” opens the proceedings on a note so grandiose that one needs to double check whether it was a ‘Maiden album one just cued, only for “I Smell Blood” to then reduce things to a punk rhythm, a nasty tremolo melody and raw, visceral snarls by Frederiksen — the unmistakable hallmarks of Darkthrone. By digging deep into the origins of true Norwegian black metal and simultaneously embracing the glory of the ‘80s, Slægt manages to strike a balance between pandering to the purists and producing genuine lasting value; the production has that lo-fi, analogue feel of Norway in the ‘90s and the tone of the music can be quite ominous and harrowing, but at the same time, there is no shortage of engaging rhythms, beautifully harmonised, heroic leads or blazing guitar solos in the likes of “In the Eye of the Devil” and “Remember It’s a Nightmare” either. Both offer refreshing takes on a genre that, with the exception of the post-black metal movement, often feels bereft of any life because of misguided notions of conservatism. Indeed, we should be grateful that bands like Slægt see no reason why black metal in particular should be immune to the innovations that clear the path for music, as a whole, to move forward.

As mentioned in the preamble to this review, this philosophy of always moving forward applies to the microcosm of Slægt’s own repertoire, too; having already transformed from pure to ‘Maiden-ised black metal on the preceding EP, the quartet has now begun incorporating progressive nuances onto its palette as well, debuting them via “The Tower” and not least the titular “Domus Mysterium” to stunning results and thus pioneering what is certain to be a strong influence on the band’s future sound. “Domus Mysterium” is not the quantum leap that its predecessor was, but it does add finesse to the ideas that were explored and capitalises on the potential that was uncovered. More than ever, the band’s growing number of disciples should thus aim their eyes at the horizon and expect the eventual third opus to write Slægt’s name in metal legend. Until that arrives, however — and even if circumstance would have it otherwise and the band ceased to be before then — this riveting study of the unlikely marriage between opposing genres suffices on its own to establish Slægt as one of the premier metal artists housed by Denmark right now.


Download: The Tower, Remember It’s a Nightmare, Domus Mysterium
For the fans of: Dissection, In Solitude, Tribulation, Vampire
Listen: Facebook

Release date 05.05.2017
Ván Records

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