Just look at that cover. Isn’t it a thing of horrifyingly twisted beauty? An anally impaled triple-headed Maria with a badonkadonk that’d make Kim Kardashian jealous, despite having “This Is My Body” written across the butt cheek in literally bloody Latin; pigs flying on bat wings, dressed in priest robes and wearing crowns of thorns; a eucharist bread, covered in veins; and the sacred Staryu overlooking the scene with appropriate disdain. Italian artist Paolo Girardi has supplied over 6 dozen bands with his infernal artwork, and that number now includes Portuguese blackened weirdos Filii Nigrantium Infernalium for their new album Hóstia. With all this religious symbolism, what do you think: will we be praising the Lord today, or shall we drown the Christian God in a pool of infernal blasphemy?
Well, it’s probably the latter, but it’s hard to tell since all the lyrics sans the closer are in Portuguese. Still, the introductory prayer is clearly satanic in nature, before the mic is handed over to a blithering madman who names himself Belathauzer. He is likely the most polarizing element of Hóstia, running from hoarse, biting black metal screams to thrashy shouts, looping around to incoherent yelling and blazing through facsimile heavy metal vocals à la Accept on PCP with a recklessness that sounds utterly out of control. Even the opening scream starts off as a desperate ragged screech before dropping the throat destruction seamlessly and falling down a well. Later on, we’re treated to a pentecostal ‘hallelujah’ chorus (“Lactância Pentecostal”) and late 80’s gang vocals on the title track. If you can withstand this desperate insanity, you’re halfway there already.
The vocals reflect the schizophrenic frenzy of the music. The album is over halfway done before it even considers dropping its breakneck blackened thrash speed. Frantic riffs chain together at high clip, many of them tremolo-based for added evil effect. The rhythm section makes no bones about their primary objective: see how fast they can destroy their equipment with only straightforward performances. But when “Autos de Fé” rolls around, all this is suddenly traded in for an acoustic intro followed by punchy Accept riffs, a theme that continues with the supremely catchy fistpumper “Hóstia,” until penultimate track “Cadela Cristã” returns to the obliteration of Deströyer 666 territory, with the D-beat and Skeletonwitch inspired “Raze the Dead of Death” finishing the album in suitable madness. The bizarre mixture of styles is absolutely FNI‘s unique selling point, tied together by the amorphous vocals into a whole that is somehow catchy, melodic, yet abrasive, hyper-aggressive and utterly, utterly deranged.
But the weirdest thing is that it actually works! The blame for that lies mainly with two culprits. The album is full of excellent hooks and riffs, snagging your subconscious while you’re still getting over the vocals. And once you get used to those, it’s hard not to crack a smile at the laryngeal acrobatics, because they are a great example of sheer enthusiasm overcoming technical shortcomings. His screeching, shouting, rasping, belting and various unexpected vocalizations play a pivotal role in the amount of delighted insanity projected by FNI. Together they create an album that drunkenly balances caustic aesthetics with rocking out and fun time, like an entirely coked out Kvelertak. The only area where I think a tad more restraint would have been an aid is the solos, which are too random and poorly improvised too often (mostly on the faster tracks but most egregiously on opener “Pó.”)
Hóstia started off mostly by weirding me out, and my opinion of the record went through several permutations before settling on a wholehearted recommendation. This album is a lunatic spiral of black metal, heavy metal and thrash metal, never settling on an idea for too long in fear of not getting to the next, and flying by as a whirlwind of ADHD-fuelled boisterous entertainment. By the end of it, I imagine Belathauzer is packed up in a straightjacket and shipped back to whatever asylum he was plucked from, but in the meantime I’ll just hit repeat again on that ridiculously catchy title track to hear the man screech in foaming madness once more. HÓSTIA!
DR 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Osmose Productions
Websites: filiinigrantiuminfernalium.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/filiinigrantiuminfernalium
Releases Worldwide: May 25th, 2018