Exanimatvm – Sollvm Ipsa Mor Review

There is death metal, and then there is evil death metal. Don’t get me wrong, death metal of all types is awesome, but I find I get entirely different moods from listening to, say, Cannibal Corpse or Mortician or Bolt Thrower than I do from the unholy symphonies composed by the likes of Morbid Angel or Incantation or Immolation. It’s the difference between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hellraiser. The former is rooted in a very realistic fear of encountering a psychopathic family in the remote wastes of Texas, the latter is more entwined in some cosmic idea of an evil presence beyond the bounds of our understanding. The former example is more direct approach, slashing and bludgeoning its way through whatever stands in its path; while the latter is a bit more slithery and seductive in it’s evil, and it that way, even more sinister.

Release date: August 9th, 2021. Label: Apocalyptic Productions
Hailing from Punta Arenas, Magallanes, in the southern region of Chile, Exanimatvm do, indeed, have such sights to show us. Perhaps it is their proximity to the Tierra del Fuego, the fiery lands at the very end of the world that fuels their blazen hellfire symphonies to be found on their sophomore record, Sollvm Ipsa Mor. Regardless, the band certainly turn up the heat, creating an antagonistic blaze of evil death metal riffs across the smoldering undercurrents of their pristine rhythm section. There is something about the way the record flows that feels like molten magma. Perhaps it’s the way the band streamline their ideas, doing more with a mere four songs stretched over the course of little over a half-hour. It sounds like it has potential to get overly self-indulgent, yet Exanimatvm give ultimate devotion to the songcraft. Each change in riff or tempo, every lead, solo, breakdown feels carefully calculated, yet simultaneously organic–the way in which that natural flow of lava can become a commanding force of destruction while still being beheld to the physical laws of gravity, heat, or inertia.

Take, for instance, the way in which the album opens. “En Las Negras Aguas De Atélily” (“The Black Waters Of Atélily”) alone sets a sort of liquidic tone. If not for the title of the song itself–as well as the sounds of soft, lapping waves crashing ominously against the onyx sands of a volcanic shore that give way to a morbid synth to fashion an intro to both the tune and the album–then certainly for the rolling, all-devouring groove that kicks off the song. Even in the following blasts, Exanimatvm don’t quite boil over from magma to lava. The rumbling growl of bassist/vocalist Demis Ferreira, delivered through a wall of delectable reverb in an almost prolonged fashion, almost restrains the rumbling of the oncoming eruption until the pristine moment. The drums take over this duty, slowing to a crawl as the guitar heats up with a particularly nasty tremolo riff. The performance of drummer Claudio Muñoz is off the charts, delivering delicious fills as the tempo steadily regains potency over the riff changes as the volcano the band have constructed starts to leak its 1,250° Celsius precum from its rigid peaks. Past the point of pulling out, the song lets the tension loose when the solo hits at the peak. Well past the point of pulling out, the guitars blow a full load in an epic crescendo that should have any Blood Incantation fan doing a double-take. The song sets a precedent for the album: Not only do Exanimatvm know how to write great riffs, but they’ve got a restraint about them that constructs this tension across the songs with a masterful hand.

Those who were fans of the band’s debut, Dispersae Et Tormentvm will most likely be pleased with the direction of Exanimatvm. While the debut is excellent in its own right, Sollvm Ipsa More feels like a level-up in every department. Not only are the band’s ideas given room to explore, but they are granted additional depth in the production department. Dispersae‘s production is excellent for what it is–a bit more rough, a bit more crude–but Sollvm adds a depth to the sound that matches the more focused and concise evolution of their songwriting. The eerie, oceanic interludes that are the only devisor between movements exist in an open vacuum, and when the full band comes blitzing in it washes the soundscape with layers of seething darkness. “Sollvm Ipsa Mor O La Voraz Antítesis Del Cosmos” (“Sollvm Ipsa More,” from Latin: “Only Death Itself;” “O La Voraz Antítesis Del Cosmos,” from Spanish: “Or The Voracious Antithesis Of The Cosmos”) exemplifies how well the dynamics of the music are captured. Between the into and the abrupt onslaught of blasting molten violence and the mid-track doom breakdown, there is a certain space captured in the recording that separates what would otherwise be a clusterfuck cacophony.

There is method to the madness as Examinatvm’s smelted black iron twists ever so slightly as the record progresses. That forward momentvm of unstoppable lava never ceases, but it certainly finds new ways to contort itself across the landscape on its ever-onward path of destruction and torment. By feedback outro of track two and into the hollow synth interlude into the third track, the evolution of the interlude has contorted itself from ambient ocean sounds to weird synth sounds over ambient ocean sounds to a different, otherworldly sea entirely composed of extraterrestrial tones. The same molten groove is reatined, yet the songs become a bit more unhinged as the album reaches it’s third quarter. The guitars become more divergent, dancing over one another, simultaneously exchanging doom and tremolo riffs in that ever-moving, ever expanding fashion that Exanimvm continue to push as the record continues to blossom.

“Magnum Veritas” (Latin: “Great Truth), brings a fitting closure to Sollvm Ipsa Mor. The slow burn of the death/doom intro to the song summons every bit of faith the band has built around their masterful construction of suspense throughout the course of the album and pounds the point home, delivering flourishing accents of chanted vocals, serpentine, tritone-laden riffs, bombastic percussion (note the over-mic’d floor tom hits in the final three minutes), bone-chillingly deep vocals, and whiplash-inducing changes: All delivered in a gradual crescendo of songwriting, it’s subtitles slipping down the throat of the listener as a poison that’s as sweet as the wine in which it dwells. Sollvm Ipsa Mor is a masterfully mature work of pure, evil music: A lurking, bestial serpent in the already cutthroat garden of death metal that strikes with wisdom beyond the years of its creators. Exanimatvm, while aggressive, are above the crude brutality of animalistic fury: They strike with purpose and precision at every mark. It’s the spirit of a predator most cunning, blessed with the gift of cognitive maliciousness, and, therefore, blessed with the spirit of an even greater presence of evil.
Sollvm Ipsa Mor is available to stream in full via YouTube and available to order on CD via Apocalyptic Productions ( apocalypticzine@gmail.com)

Posted by Ryan Tysinger

I listen to music, then I write about it. On Twitter @d00mfr0gg (Outro: The Winds Of Mayhem)

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