Woeful Litanies Of Contagion

LAW OF CONTAGION: Woeful Litanies From The Nether Realm

Release year: 2020
Label: Moribund Records

Citing acts such as Beherit, Mystifier, Mortuary Drape and classic Mayhem as references, the promo sheet certainly paints with broad strokes when speaking about Portugese one-man act Law Of Contagion. I mean, for the most part, there’s not too much musical common ground between those acts.

Of course, the common thing all these share is that they flourished during the early 90’s and most played a significant role in the advent of 2nd wave black metal.

And, for sure, Law Of Contagion’s brand of black metal harks back to the early days of the 90’s. There’s precious few traces of finesse or over-polishing here; instead, the Portugese act opts for stripped-down, straightforward and oftentimes quite crude black metal with definite throwback elements.

I can’t hear much in terms of Beherit here, nor Mayhem, but Mystifier certainly hits home. The vocals bear a strong resemblance to the two first albums of the Brazilian legends; the hoarse, monotonous grunting sets a certain inhuman, cold and distanced atmosphere for the album.

Beyond that, there’s a lot of borderline-generic elements lifted from bands of yore; some nods towards Norway, some towards Sweden, and yet others elsewhere; elements that call into mind bands on the rawer spectrum of the second wave, but also a definite sense of melody and some quite melodic passages that hark to the opposite end. And so on: Woeful Litanes From The Nether Realm is a rather well-crafted if not particularly engrossing tribute to the underground of bygone decades. The murky-but-passable sound, with slightly muffled guitars and plodding drums, is par for the course, evoking instant nostalgia.

I’d be lying if I said Woeful Litanies From The Nether Realm has me overly excited. Whilst the atmosphere and the throwback nostalgia of the sound definitely has plenty of appeal for those of us who wax lyrically for years gone by, in the long run the album does reveal itself to be a bit of a one-trick pony. This, coupled with a lack of standout tracks means that for all it does right, means that Woeful Litanies… doesn’t quite manage to break out from the grayish mass.

Woeful Litanies From The Nether Realm has me somewhat divided. On one hand, there are a lot of decent elements here and I like the crude, shamelessly old school approach. But on the other, there’s something lacking, something that’d make things truly click into place. I guess one can say that on this debut album, the Portugese one-man act shows more promise than actual delivery.


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