Ask any avid metal fan precisely what it is to be ‘extreme’ and they’ll likely reel off an endless, inexhaustible list of bands displaying varying levels of brain-liquefying sonic abrasiveness and brutality. From frantically accelerating staccato blasts and crippling slabs of churning bass to lacerating accents of tremolo that leave the synapses swimming in adrenaline, there’s no overstating the supreme pleasure to be derived from these deliciously aggressive elements. But what of those rare artists whose compositional skill and vision enables them to take their meticulous craft somewhere altogether more sinister and intriguing? To a shadow realm devoid of light and steeped in unimaginable suffering and horror. Look no further, dear reader, than the nightmarish, coldly entrancing entity that goes by the name of Luctus…
“In my opinion, black metal must be rough, violent and direct, but it must also have its own atmospheric and reflective side. These two things must coexist without obfuscating each other,” observes Luctus founder Kommander L. on the Lithuanian quartet’s very particular strain of brutalising yet richly immersive extreme metal. Indeed, since their humble beginnings as a one-man black metal project established back in 2001, this restlessly evolving entity has undergone immeasurable sonic growth and progression over the past couple of decades. With 2015 opus ‘Ryšys’ cementing unprecedented new levels of bristling, unadulterated aggression and blackly expansive atmospherics, it would be a full five years before its creator would be poised and ready to complete his next intensely sinister and ultra-violent musical vision.
“The process of making this album was really tortuous and long,” Kommander L. reveals. “As I said before, in 2016 me and the guitarist Shatras separated from the other two members and two new members took part in the band, so we started to rehearsal the new songs. However after two years the drummer left us and preventing us from playing live and, above all, from recording the album. Only in 2019 did the current drummer take over and finally last year we were able to start recording the new album. It was a long process, but it was probably destined to be so. We did not give up on difficulties and we brought our goal to the end.”
Having taken ample time to perfect the seamless and tautly cohesive band chemistry that would prove so essential in bringing this wondrously diabolical vision to fruition, resulting masterwork ‘Užribis’ is positively awash with evidence of this painstakingly meticulous approach. From the deathly, ambient whisperings of darkly cinematic opener ‘Gilyn’ through to the sheer, brimstone-scorched ferocity of its electrifying title track, the Lithuanians’ latest opus is as blisteringly aggressive as it is compositionally expansive and accomplished. With its darkly immersive character having been profoundly influenced by its creator’s long-standing fascination with transcendental states of being far removed from the weary and unremarkable physical reaches of human existence, Kommander L. expands, “Actually, this kind of inner research started already with the previous album ‘Ryšys’. On that album I was looking for a connection with this sort of parallel dimension. The need to investigate this phenomenon arises from the sensations I experience every day - during meditation, during dreams and nightmares. I perceive something great that is always inside me and to find out what it is I have to go beyond the boundaries of the habits of material life. Music and especially black metal is one of principle tools to conduct this research.”
With recent, highly unfortunate prevailing circumstances having sadly derailed the band’s original plans for an official album launch party in the capital city of Vilnius, Lithuania, it was with no small amount of bitter frustration and regret that the band were forced to postpone the live unveiling of ‘Užribis’ earlier this month. Yet, with this exceptionally vicious and atmospheric full-length destined to become one of the finest black metal records you’ll hear all year, it’s small wonder its creator is looking ahead to the foreseeable future with boundless optimism and determination.
“We were planning a live-stream on the day of the release of the new album,” Kommander L. explains. “But unfortunately we were unable to complete our plans because at the moment, according to the directives of our government, meetings of more than two persons are prohibited here. Too bad for this situation, we were preparing a great show for the presentation of the album. But we will do it again as soon as all this passes, nobody will stop us!”
‘Užribis’ is out now via Inferna Profundus Records