VI- “De Praestigiis Angelorum”

VI - De Praestigiis Angelorum

It seems nearly a lifetime ago that I dropped an immensely favorable review of Aosoth’s masterpiece, IV: An Arrow in Heart. I lived in a different state, the site was on a different domain, and my writing was cryptic and visual in ways that I’d love to revise from my current perspective. It’s interesting to sit here, a few years later, and examine De Praestigiis Angelorum, the debut from VI, a project with members of Aosoth and Antaeus. The musicians involved seem to have grown and spread out in beautiful ways, and it’s really fantastic to see artists I already love building on their own substantial legacies.

With De Praestigiis Angelorum, melody and might are equally dominant forces in their anti-religious assault. Whereas artists of such pedigree might be expected to conjure full ferocity and venom at all times, these assaults are well tempered by complex songwriting and warm progressions that seem to cut out moments of security. Musicianship is clearly a priority, as loose and open moments (as they have near the one-minute mark of “La terre ne cessera de se consumer”) often allow fluid drumming and seemingly wandering strings and swelling bass to reunite at the precise moment to decimate with consistent energy and fury. It’s really wonderful to see black metal leaning to high caliber artistry without meandering into overtly progressive sounds or outright death metal influence, and VI walks the line brilliantly on most of these songs.

Still, De Praestigiis Angelorum is not just a display of technical prowess. The fact that much of the melodies are in the upper register of the guitar’s capacity brings in an ethereal characteristic that might bring in folks who are otherwise wary of black metal’s penchant for pure aggression and lends a strong air of atmosphere without ever lurching into actual “atmospheric” black metal territory. Many songs feel like victory marches against rising tides, with swelling chaos threatening the glory the band strives so hard to cultivate and convey. The outcome is something that is equally epic and harrowing, allowing for a listening experience that is neither tired nor niche. To my understanding, black metal is a genre that often fears invention and growth. Artists like VI have me wondering why this is, as De Praestigiis Angelorum appeals to a certain orthodoxy while also inviting new concepts to a very familiar set of sounds to create one of the most triumphant releases to be featured on Black Metal & Brews in recent memory.

Grab a copy of this album from Agonia Records or regret the choice eternally. This comes with the highest recommendation possible.