Aversio Humanitatis – Behold the Silent Dwellers Review

Misanthropy is at the core of most extreme metal projects. The driving force of Eyehategod’s sludge is an abrasive and tortured vocal attack; at the heart of Cattle Decapitation’s barrage of death is a frothing indictment against environmental abusers; and hovering around it all like a guardian angel of doom is Tom G. Warrior, spinning yarns of existential dread from Giger-inspired tendrils since the early 80s. Before this, Black Sabbath brought misanthropy to the fore, drowning the frilly navel gazing love-fests of the 60s in a tar of mangled hatred. Misanthropy is what draws a lot of us to metal. We’re not all irrational brain-dead human-hating zombies. In fact, most of us are geeky, silly, stupid freaks who like a bit of horror and escapism in our lives. The intense drama of a misanthropic black metal release arrives to a listener as both a serious work of art and an absurd, sometimes even comical, view of the way things are – a mirror. Spain’s Aversio Humanitatis seek to abandon humanity through their music. They’ve had enough. We’re too far down the rabbit hole.

It’s been nine long years since Aversio Humanitatis’ debut release, Abandonment Ritual, and humans have descended deeper into the pits of despair since the glory days of 2011. Their sound hasn’t drastically changed since then, although the production and tightness of Behold The Silent Dwellers is welcome – less cavernous, more pristine. Riff-weaver S.D runs his own recording studio in Spain and his ability to create and produce has given Behold a sturdy skeleton. Aversio’s approach to black metal is of the cryptic, twisting, esoteric sort that seeks to attack through malicious constancy. Ear-worming melody has been sent to the basement, occasionally pushing twitching fingers through the surface in “The Sculptor of Thoughts” as a prime example. Conniving mid-paced sharpness of the grating variety dances in the moonlight for the most part, a dense and deep throb that glides through the record. The clarity and deepness of the mix keeps the surging tone of the record at a satisfying level. There’s little variety riff-wise but Aversio refrain from flogging a dead horse, just about.

The record follows the groundwork laid by opener “The Weaver of Tendons.” A thick bass buries the track deep in the ground whilst a wave of orchestral guitar sound opposes the dismal underlay. The song ruptures forth, embellished by gruff vocal juts and spurting fragments of tremolo riffing. Then, as if life’s veil has been lifted, a sudden stop. Here, Aversio Humanitatis are at their best. A mid-paced melancholy replaces the constancy of the opening minutes; the song unravels, echoing electronic elements warble and spin off tumbling and spacious drum patterns. Then, an explosion of sound that releases the cathartic energy stored in the heart. At their best I’m reminded of the percussive majesty that lifts Kriegsmaschine’s sound to the next level. Similarly, “The Wanderer of Abstract Paths,” merging juicy grooves and technical bass jaunts with the cryptic and twisting black metal core, builds to a rousing cascade of clean vocals that swallow the opaque mix like an incantation from a higher being.

Unfortunately, parts of Behold the Silent Dwellers fail to develop and progress this solid formula. “The Presence in the Mist” has a confident swagger, guided by expressive and less furious drumming, but fails to satisfyingly release itself from its tangled grooves. It builds expertly but the powerful ending is elusive. Sauntering to a close, it feels as if the build up was for nought. Likewise, “The Watcher in the Walls” feels tepid in contrast to the stronger moments of the record, sputtering along as if scared to deviate too much from the structures built in previous tracks. Its riffs fall into a slovenly groove and the bellowing growls of A.M. grow overbearing; from this point, the track unravels but its esoteric tendrils fail to grasp onto a higher power. Behold the Silent Dwellers is a short record with little room to fall flat. Although these weaker moments are still proficient they can appear more prominent when there’s little room to maneuver.

There have been many strong black metal releases this year. Alongside the likes of Korgonthurus, Dark Fortress, Enepsigos, Odraza, Biesy, Spectral Lore/Mare Cognitum and others, Aversio Humanitatis have pushed their head above the parapet and gazed into the black metal glory at the heart of no man’s land. Unfortunately, glory evades Aversio Humanitatis today. There are multiple moments to embrace here. The mix sounds great and the technical skill on show is a draw. However, a uninspiring back end to the record takes the shine from one that could have been so much more. Carry on hating, humanity.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: aversiohumanitatis.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/aversiohumanitatis
Releases Worldwide: June 19th, 2020

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