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Celestia - "Archanae Perfectii - L'arche Arcane des Parfaits" (CD)

Celestia  - "Archanae Perfectii - L'arche Arcane des Parfaits" CD cover image

"Archanae Perfectii - L'arche Arcane des Parfaits" track listing:

1. Grandiohsia Obverturae/Vue du Ciel (6:23)
2. Demhiurghic Deity (Devilution) (3:38)
3. Phoenemenae of Creation (4:29)
4. Dogmatii Duality/Au Crépuscule Sous les Larmes (4:09)
5. Dominus Crux Spiritus (4:43)
6. ArcheArcanae des Parfaits (1:30)
7. Perfectii Ketter Katharos (4:24)
8. Nuit Qui Brille Comme Soleil (3:52)

Reviewed by on December 21, 2010

"Reaching any sort of creative momentum after ten years of tentative dabbling will prove a huge challenge for any band, yet this is quite a substantial peak in their creative efforts of late."

In recent years, the main contributors to the elusive Les Legions Noires black metal following have remained a subject of shadowy intrigue, staying unobtrusive and uncompromisingly raw in contrast to well established contemporaries such as Anorexia Nervosa and Blut Aus Nord. In asking ourselves why this may be the case, it is necessary to delve into the personal philosophy of Celestia's front man Noktu. It's no surprise that Noktu claims that Celestia is 'dead' in a suitably misanthropic fashion and that it cannot be associated with the modern black metal scene, as it is too far removed from any sort of black metal standard. However, even the most cursory of listens to Celestia's most recent material will reveal that Noktu is speaking quite genuinely about the current state of his music.

It is worth nothing that Celestia's long-standing discography of twenty four releases, including no more than five full length albums, and scarce web pages have pushed the duo well into the depths of stubborn obscurity. Reaching any sort of creative momentum after ten years of tentative dabbling will prove a huge challenge for any band, yet this is quite a substantial peak in their creative efforts of late. Taken as a whole, this may not have the potency to truly break free of the introspective constraints of the sub-genre, but it at least manages to pull us away from the cliched glamor of obsessive self hatred and towards shadowy territory well trod by the likes of Austere and Gris.

The influences here are varied and numerous. Although many riff structures have evidently been swiped from Burzum's "Filosofem," dominant guitar chords in the vein of Nocte Obducta punctuate passages and adds a distinct militaristic characteristic to numbers "Dominus Crux Spiritus" and "Demhiurghic Deity." Delicately melancholic acoustic guitar interludes frequently reference some of Alcest's finer moments, while the pendulum-like switch from minor to major chords signal possible influences from Forgotten Woods.

The real depth and flair on this album comes from the duo's seamless ability to pull back from sweltering, dense passages of droning dirge and switch to the blissful fluency of ambient guitar sections. Layers of melancholic guitar sections swell to form apathy-drenched interludes. There are no telltale clattering of drum box machines, but some refreshingly abstract rhythms worked into numbers such as "Dogmatii Duality" and "Nuit Qui Brille Comme Soleil," coupled with an eerie bass, pull chunks of lacerating riffage into pitch-black pitfalls of droning despair.

Considering the band's lack of PR and advertising, it is unlikely that "Archanae Perfectii" will receive huge attention; however, it will certainly equal the high caliber of such understated acts as Sombre Chemin and Mortifera and will gain huge recognition in the DSBM community.

Highs: Acoustic guitar passages are subtly emotive and skillfully interwoven into each track.

Lows: Some passages are slightly overworked and tend to collapse into a chaotic mess.

Bottom line: A well crafted, refreshingly original release with very few lapses in musicianship

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)