PICK OF THE WEEK: Portuguese terrors Concilium mar death, black metal with ‘Desecration’

The night is hot, and your breathing is labored, trying your best to find relief in sleep but only falling into the terrible loop of strange nightmares every time you lose consciousness. You stick to the sheets, certain that you’re hallucinating, dying, going mad, or a combination of all of that, and no matter what you do, your slumber is shoved violently back into your mind’s most warped storytelling.

Or, maybe you’re not actually asleep but instead trying to make heads of tails of “Desecration,” the mind-scraping debut record from Portuguese black/death metal phantoms Concilium, a work of art that feels like it was taken directly from your life’s worst dreams. The trio—N (guitars, vocals, compositions, art direction), Vulturius (drums), Occelensbrigg (bass)—create an atmosphere that makes it seem like you’re staring directly into a void of psychosis and a gasp of pure darkness around which your brain cannot fully wrap. It’s a stimulating, terrifying journey through buried darkness, ghostly whispers, and panicked feelings that put your fight-or-flight tendencies to the test.   

“From the Chalice” awakens in murky hell before bones are turned to dust, and the misery spreads. The vocals hiss beneath in a soup of blood and muscle that mars any hint of cleanliness, the guitars churn, and the elements hit tornadic highs before finally laying its head to rest. “Shadow Gospels” ruptures right away, delivering washed-out horrors that make it feel like you’re having body disassociation. The growls hiss as a cloud of smoke obscures everything, and then the playing adds a different level of pressure, making you go into a mental breakdown as the track carves deep into your mind. “From Emptiness to Oblivion” drips in, leaving an eerie fog you practically can cut with a knife. The track is both hypnotic and brings terror, plodding and adding to an echoey nightmare, finally washing away into a strange bath of confusion and electricity.

“Sacred Land of Impure Blood” alerts its arrival with bells ringing and the playing pounding hard, even making the bruising slip into an atmospheric assault. The growled whispers sit in the guts like a ghost, the track picks up and steers into the mist, and the carnage makes an easy landing absolutely impossible. “Blood on the Altar” drills in and grinds as the drumming reverberates, and we head into the heart of blackness. Total battery takes control, waves of chaos amplify your uneasy stomach, and everything finally relents by bleeding away. “Blood Candles” ends things with anguished guitars and whispers haunting, letting doom waters lap slowly. The pace makes your nerves go numb, and then the playing turns into a murderous gust, with haunting darkness strengthening its grip. Feedback tangles and lingers, a thick synth fog emerges, and the whispers mix in with the spirit of the night, ending the record with a sense of chill and dread.

It’s hard to put a finger on what Concilium have in their minds when putting their strange black magic into play on “Desecration,” but the results are intellectually punishing and sometimes utterly horrifying. This feels like evil spirits lurking toward you with you having almost no chance at keeping them at bay, leaving you at their non-existent mercy. This is music capable of climbing into your mind and rewiring your psyche, and not always for the better. Strange, vile, and violent only begins to explain just what awaits you when you confront the ghoul that is Concilium.

For more on the band, go here: http://sentientruin.com/bands#/concilium

To buy the album, go here: http://sentientruin.com/releases/concilium-desecration

For more on the label, go here: http://sentientruin.com/