Animus Mortis – Testimonia (ATMF)

Tuesday, 16th December 2014
Rating: 8.5/10

Santiago, Chile’s Animus Mortis are on to something with Testimonia, their second album and first in six years. By that measure, they’re a rare black metal commodity who is purposely sideways and avant-garde, without taking the full-on whacked-out bait. As in, the songs that comprise of Testimonia have a quick, rather instant flair, whirl, whatever to them. It has more to do with what they don’t do than what they actually do, which frankly, isn’t all that out of bounds. But, the album is able to achieve marvelous pace by parlaying some seriously charming riffs, which always wins in the end.

Eschewing the fact the band is from Chile, Animus Mortis may have more to do with the fertile black metal ground of France than anything. Granted, they’re not as elaborate are utterly weird as Deathspell Omega or brazen as Blut Aus Nord, but found among harmonious cuts like excellent album opener “REM Manifesto” and its follow up, “Seven Decrees,” AM is able to grapple with the pointed, quasi-melodic riffs found between the above-mentioned pair as well as an atmospheric undertow that prevails right from the onset. Even the more straight-ahead, less flourished cuts like “Hyperbole of Senses” and the title track take up residence in vast, experimental fields without losing their identity.

An album perhaps best consumed on the whole, Testimonia positions Animus Mortis as an instant player in the atmospheric black metal derby. And really, since these guys are a notch down on the nutty BM scale, there’s a sort of inline route that connects them to the likes of 00’s-era Borknagar and even Viking-era Enslaved, two outfits who managed to beautifully weave the subtlety of atmosphere with the blanket elements of black metal. Now, Animus Mortis haven’t quite risen to such levels, but tack on a few more album like Testimonia, then they’re on their way. Highly recommended stuff.

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