Metal Mulligans: Filii Nigrantium Infernalium – Pornokrates: Deo Gratias

A lot of great metal came out this year — too much for mere mortals to catch all the good stuff. Even those who make it their business to chase down killer riffage sleep on worthy specimens sometimes. Thus, during the month of December, we will sometimes call Metal Mulligans on albums that we should’ve written about earlier, but didn’t. You can read last year’s inaugural edition here.

This isn’t so much a story about a mulligan as it is a story about serendipity.

Well, serendipity and Filii Nigrantium Infernalium, that is. Now, quite probably that name doesn’t mean much to you, but friends, I remember that name from some snippet of coverage in Terrorizer back in 2005 when the band’s debut full-length was released. Some things just stick with you, so a chance encounter with that name produced paroxysms of phantom headbanging, just in the way that Proust’s madeleine causes Marcel to wax nostalgic about that one time he was in a wicked brutal circle pit.

To wit: A recent fortuitous run-in with Metal-Archives.com yielded the improbable detail that the band had released a second album. And nobody had the common courtesy to tell me. Naturally, I took to Twitter to vent my spleen. Thanks to the constant watchfulness of the internet, I know that my message was hurled into the ether at 10:44 AM yesterday. I also know that I received an email containing a promotional download of the brand-new Filii Nigrantium Infernalium album, Pornokrates: Deo Gratias at 12:02 PM yesterday.

The mind, it frankly boggles.

My purpose is not to report on this trivial backstory; it’s more old-fashioned: I simply would like to tell you that I think this album is great, and that perhaps you will think it is great, too. After three solid listens, this is still early going, and yet, my impression of Filii Nigrantium Infernalium is much the same in 2013 as it was with their 2005 album, Fellatrix Discordia Pantokrater: this is a band too impatient and too enthusiastic to let genre niceties get in the way of what they want to do, which is, by and large, to blitz their way down as many different avenues of riotously fun heavy metal as humanly possible. The band’s core is black metal, but only very loosely speaking, because over the course of the album — and within the course of most single songs — they also downshift into thrash gymnastics, break out into d-beats, and make plenty of time for classic heavy metal galloping, heroic guitar soloing, and unhinged vocals.

All of these traits flower on the album’s proper lead-off track, “Rancor,” which we are presenting here in an exclusive stream. The straight-ahead swagger of the verse riff gives ground to an almost Celtic Frost-ish stomp. After a relatively standard guitar solo, the song seems ready to give out, but then: fwoooosh! everything goes blast-blast-blast-blast-blast, and then, there’s violin! This is the band’s cagey appeal: these are all familiar sounds, but they ping and hurtle from one to the other according to strange, sometimes awkward geometries, such that just as your brain has wrapped itself around what’s happening, you’re already smiling about something else entirely.

The only real misstep is on the plodding “Seita,” which sounds like Dio’s band circa 1985 playing the chorus to Metallica’s “Creeping Death” at about half-speed. Still, even this oddball track lends credence to the notion that this is a band willing to deploy just about any trick in the book in the service of heavy metal. The bass drum is a little too fat, the blasting snare a bit too loose and brittle, and the bass clobbers along the underside like it isn’t quite sure how to hold its hands at a party. It’s all a little bit sloppy, and in this context, that’s perfect. This is the kind of album that might provoke you to learn Portuguese just so you can gang-shout along to “Materia Negra.” (Pretty sure that was one of the sub-plots in Love, Actually, right?)

Here’s the rub: this one will be tough to track down for many of you. But who knows? Life is long and the world is strange, and perhaps, if a supremely entitled muttering on Twitter can sometimes be answered a mere 78 minutes later, well…

All I’m asking is that you keep this band stored away somewhere, in some dusty, unused corner of your mind. You never know when they might extrude conveniently into your reality, with amps humming and fingers poised expectantly above frets, an entirely hungry ecosystem ready to descend in a single strike.

Pornokrates: Deo Gratias is out now on Chaosphere Recordings. You can order it on vinyl here.

— Dan Lawrence