Sacrilegium – Anima Lucifera (Pagan Records)

Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
Rating: 7.5/10

As previously noted with our short review of the band’s Angelus EP, Sacrilegium are one of the fore-running Polish black metal bands. It’s of interest considering the country’s death metal-dominated history, led by the likes of Vader, Decapitated, and Behemoth, although one could make the argument Behemoth were more black metal in their early days. Nevertheless, Sacrilegium’s quirk-filled sound is now getting the rust off in a major way with Anima Lucifera, the band’s first full-length in 20 years.

Straightforward, down-the-line black metal this is most certainly not, as the Poles play a largely rankled, if not avant-garde blend of the black arts. Their riff selections certainly cement that suggestion – they’re angular, broad, and lost somewhere in space. It’s what helps lifts opening number “Heavenwings Shrugged” off the ground, where upon a litany of speed-burning picking and light keyboard touches create a weird-scape, if you will. The aforementioned “Angelus” ends up being the album’s most convincing track thanks to its streamlined structure and dark base, while “The Serpent Throne” peels back on the trad BM for a wormy, melodic number that veers into Gothic territory, sort of like Cradle of Filth without the pomp.

Sacrilegium proves to be at its most formidable when burning the black metal rubber ala “Venomous Spell of Fate,” or “Desiderium Immortalis,” two cuts that root themselves quite firmly in the band’s sound and function of 20 years ago. And that appears to be the balance Sacrilegium is ceaselessly trying to strike – remaining planted in their fundamentals while trying to jump back and figure out everything that has happened to black metal in the last two decades. A daunting task, one the Poles appear up for with Anima Lucifera.

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