Black metal has showed remarkable evolution through the past several years, adding hints of progressive, punk, and avant-garde influences along the way. In the mold of symphonic black metal, but without emphasis on keyboards, is a band called Vircolac, and their new release for Iron Bonehead Productions, Codex Perfida, is an album that conjures up atmosphere in forms just as lethal as some of the straight-away black metal songs. Let me tell you, dudes. I’m high on Vircolac. No, dweeb! It’s not a drug, it’s a band! I’m not typically a fan of film score music making its way to black metal albums where it seems to scream ‘filler’ at me every time I hear an example of one, but Vircolac know how to get it done, using piano, acoustic guitars, and floor toms in its majestic intro. On all tracks, the music is dark, interesting, and about as beautiful as Linda Blair was when she starred in The Exorcist. Many of you guys reading this will swear to Blair having been a first crush, especially when her head does a one-eighty to face the mighty Priest in the movie (He didn’t stand a chance!). Anyway, she was a lot better than your girlfriend in high school who preferred lollipops to that thing in your gym shorts. The black metal tracks aren’t straight-aways, like I might have said.
They feature a little Tryptikon-style slow-jamming, before alternating with fast sections. Track three, “The Worm Turns,” has great dynamics, besides some great tremolo riffs. On the last track, they give birth to a Rosemary’s baby-type hybrid of ambient music and black metal that you’ve never heard of. No Abigail Williams comparisons here, thank you very much. Vircolac’s Codex Perfida raises the bar in black metal art, expanding on the genre by the use of good ideas and good instrumentation. While the black metal riffs appeal to just about anyone, the ambient music should make them distinct from the fair lot of bands trying to use ambient music redone many times over. It certainly makes that case over anything Cradle of Filth have done. Intelligent metalheads will love Codex Perfida, guaranteed ear-candy for the discerning listener. You don’t have to be a nuclear scientist to admire black metal as an art, but I know guttersnipes who want second-wave black metal for the umpteenth time without a listen at anything else will be less forgiving – but for fuck’s sake, have some crass for once, you mothers! After all, Darkthrone and Mayhem aren’t even doing that shit anymore, so get an open mind, or get the fuck out!