VI: De Praestigiis Angelorum

French black metallers offer a haunting hymn to the void

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VI may be a familiar name to followers of contemporary French black metal, the band featuring members and ex-members of such illustrious outfits as Aosoth, Antaeus, Merrimack and The Order Of Apollyon.

On the strength of this, the band’s first album (VI having only previously released an EP and a split since their inception in 2007), the group seem destined for great things and De Praestigiis Angelorum stands as a remarkably strong debut full-length.

Boasting the otherworldly and devotedly hellish ambience that their home country has become known for, the compositions here are darkly malevolent but also surprisingly memorable, combining brutality (not least in the percussive bombardment), a quasi-religious atmosphere and surprisingly catchy and emotive guitar work – not to mention a confident use of tension and dynamics.

Often mid-paced and restrained despite the double bass battery, the songs here are carefully crafted (as well they might be – the record was apparently created over five years) and balance moments of frantic guitar dissonance with haunting refrains and a touch of Deathspell-esque cerebral charm.