Rex Mundi - Ihvh
Rex Mundi are a new and quite mysterious black metal outfit from the realm of...well...nobody is exactly sure WHERE they're from. Or who is doing what within the band. An interview with frontman Metatron reveals the tiniest of details, but it's fairly obvious that their debut IHVH benefits greatly from the shroud of darkness surrounding the entire project. While it may be difficult for listeners to grasp at typical focal points like locale, band member associations and the like, the music itself is near-flawless. This is one of those records that spans the length of a genre's yearly offerings so swiftly and without effort that you cannot help but salivate at what comes next.
There is definitely a sacreligious underpinning to the entirety of IHVH, references both in lyrical and thematic form to something I simply cannot fathom. But there is a message beyond the excellent music. That being said, you aren't really being left in the dark without that knowledge. "J'Imagine" opens with a distorted chanting, sounding to my ears to be Muslim in origin, before a subtle and depressive riff swirls around Metatron's impressive vocals. Impressive, as a matter of fact, doesn't sum up the tumultuous approach he takes from track to track, stretching his chords into unholy and disturbing pitches, reminding me very much of my favorite black metal vocalist, the infamous Attila Csihar. The music has a very earthy, Wolves In The Throne Room feel to it at times, mostly during the extended, percussion-driven passages. But Rex Mundi run the gamut of all blends of black metal throughout this record, and typically meld a myriad of influences into each individual track. The not-so-subtle shifts of tempo and brutality on "Naphtali" show how organic and fluid the band already are at this point in their career, "The Flesh Begat" is twisted and spastic, leaping from chugging riffage to blastbeat-laden full-octane passages with little regard to bridging the two. "Pious Angels" is unashamed of it's bombast, utilizing more Muslim imagery and some of the most flesh-peeling of their percussive bombardments. If that's not a drum machine kicking in around 9 minutes in, then I'm absolutely impressed.
The back half of the album is a bit more sloppy and misconstrued than the front, but as an overall package, IHVH is one of the best debuts this genre of metal has seen in many years. It would not surprise me to one day discover that this band featured an assortment of well-established and respected individuals from the metal community. As it is, they capture the essence of the best the genre has ever offered and manage to pen crafty and creative songs without simply mocking their influences. Rex Mundi should be on the radar of any black metal fan.
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