Mysterious Ars Magna Umbrae lean hard into esoteric chaos with ‘Throne Between Worlds’

I’ve long thought that music you have to earn is what tends to stick with you over the months and years after you first encountered said art. It’s also great if a record or a band gets you right away without much lifting on your part. But something that’s complicated and challenging, making you spend time getting comfortable with the music and developing awareness is incredibly rewarding.

Sole creator K.M.’s Ars Magna Umbrae project is one of those that creates art that likely will take a little while to land, and what he’s doing is anything but straightforward. That spills over on his third record “Throne Between Worlds,” the place where it feels like this music exists because its meaning is not held out in front of your face. Over six tracks of mind-altering, brain-tangling black metal, K.M. reaches to forces beyond most out our comprehension to find something to fan these esoteric fires. At the end of these 37 minutes, you’re likely not going to have a massive grasp on what you just experienced, but repeat visits begin to open those doors and transfer the information you need to grow.

“Into Waters of the Underworld” enters amid watery leads and growls that smear data in your mind as everything begins to collect and swelter. Calm interjects itself for a stretch before the heat reignites and spreads, the playing flutters, and angelic calms collect and exit in a cool mist. “Consecrating the Shrine of Undoing” mashes your muscles right away and creeps in a mid-tempo crunch before the lid is blown off. Shrieks shred your brain while a foggy trickle only adds to your psychosis with melodies floating in the clouds. Then the guitar work scorches again as the track heads out. “Beyond the Stellar Gates” gushes and mangles as the vocals gurgle at dangerous levels. An elegant glaze is drizzled over the carnage as vicious roars send shockwaves, and the riffs twist logic. The pace picks up and absolutely torches as the violent mystery stomps out into the night.

“Treader on the Dreamless Path” has a dreamy start, meandering in your mind before the walls come down. The playing destroys and disorients, robbing you of any sense of normalcy as the mauling stings wounds. Later, there are mystical elements that play games with you before the track blurs out in noise. The title track is a bit frosty as it starts, then the guitars stir and agitate, spreading like an impenetrable fog. The track carves around bends feeling both fluid and jarring, flooding your mind, and sending you away reeling. “Metempsychosis (Transmigration of the Soul)” ends the album, an 11:11-long track that starts with dizzy riffs and vicious growls, delivering a disorienting pace. Melodies race, and even when cooler temperatures arrive, there’s torment on the other end, pounding you and folding you into blackness. Infernal shrieks arrive and grasp at your flesh, weirdness multiplies and challenges, and the guitars quiver, with the song finally resting in black pools.

K.M. continues to build worlds only he can comprehend, with that continuing on “Throne Between Worlds,” itself as strange concept that pushes the mind. Each Ars Magna Umbrae album itself is a chance to expand your relationship with heavy music and journey into the center of something almost impossible to absorb. There’s nothing wrong with music that’s easy to digest; but the records you must earn are the ones that tend to offer the richest rewards.

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