Kvlt of Eblis – Templo de la Serpiente Negra (Morbid Skull Records)Thursday, 23rd August 2018
Somewhere in a dark place in 1996 a group is together making music for dark magics and to explore one esoteric path or another. Only instead of 1996 it’s 2018 and it’s Kvlt of Eblis and their debut Templo de la Serpiente Negra (you really shouldn’t need help translating it). Endless blasting, straight forward riffing, female shrieks (I only know that because of the promotional photos, they’re otherwise the standard fare) and the occasional bit of choral chanting, the ritual is alive. Unfortunately, it’s also not very interesting.
To posit that the album is stuck somewhere in the past perhaps isn’t fair. The entire subgenre of raw black metal is devoted to this sort of sonic aesthetic and there are times it produces some really killer work, Black Cilice’s Banished From Time from last year really comes to mind. And perhaps it’s a disservice to raw black metal to throw Templo de la Serpiente Negra into its ring as the album isn’t exactly raw sounding. It’s just thin. Loud and thin and nothing carries weight, the guitar and vocals being the forward-most elements, the bass usually audible at the fringes. The drums may be programmed or they may be triggered into oblivion, but they sound programmed with nary a bit of interest beyond basic blasting eternal.
‘Hekate’ is a killer track, variable in its approach and the aspects the band does do well spread across its peaks and valleys. If the album had been constructed with the care of this track it could have been a sleeper gem. Track one is the standard (largely) throwaway intro, and that means only one of six warrants repeat listens. Ritual bits with the aforementioned choral vocals come into play occasionally, most noticeably on ‘Vudú’ and ‘Lepaca Lilith’, which you should find below. These moments are few and far in between, however, and it leaves the album a one trick pony without a particularly useful trick.
Fortunately the album barely crosses the 40 minute mark. Unfortunately across the non-intro tracks, they tend to run over five and a half to six minutes. Sometimes, like with the aforementioned ‘Hekate’, it’s time well spent. ‘El Despertar de la Bestia’, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. I’ll give that the song carries an evil vibe, but in a Satan Is Real album cover kind of way.
Your mileage with Templo de la Serpiente Negra will hinge mostly on your personal tolerance for mundane black metal tropes. I’ll get back to Banished From Time.