Idolatria – Tetrabestiarchy Review

Being a black metal fan entails crankiness. It seems there are more critics and black metal TSA waiting in the wings than any other metal subgenre, just lurking, waiting to hit each new album with a slap of humility – some of it deserved, some of it not. No one’s ever happy, as no release will be raw enough, noisy enough, unlistenable enough, “they have a Facebook and a Bandcamp and don’t exclusively sell cassettes, are you fucking kidding me,” not blackgaze-y enough,1 not Satanic or suicidal enough, not recorded in a trash can on the ashes of a Norwegian church surrounded by corpsepainted goats gnawing on pieces of Varg Vikernes’ Nazi-ass skull – it’s never kvlt enough. What complaint will folks have about Idolatria?

Idolatria is an Italian black metal quartet, established in 2013, having released their debut LP Breviarium Daemonicus Idolatrum in 2015. Adherents of the template of tremolos, blastbeats, and roars, sophomore effort Tetrabestiarchy 2 sports a few “gnarled ‘n gnarling” tricks in a dense production and flairs of sinister dissonance laced throughout its blackened tapestry. In four main tracks bookended by an ambient intro and outro, it describes an obscure and occult mythology of four animals’ dominion: serpent, noctule,3 goat, and vulture. Ultimately, while Idolatria brings very little new to the black metal table, Tetrabestiarchy is nonetheless a solidly relentless exercise in ominous atmospherics.

The best of Idolatria happens when relentless meets sinister like a lethal chocolate/vanilla swirled soft-serve cone. “Serpent: The Father of Darkness” revels in doomy plodding and ritualistic drumming that recalls The Ruins of Beverast while also throwing in a nearly groove metal-esque riff to conclude. Meanwhile, no-holds-barred riff-off “Noctule: The Emperor of Scourge” pays homage to a dense Akitsa style in its relentless blastbeats and fiery tremolos. Throughout Tetrabestiarchy is laced an obsidian edge of dissonance reminiscent of Iceland’s Misþyrming or Wormlust, as well as subtle symphonic textures a la recent Abigail Williams, utilized to enhance the twisted atmosphere without sacrificing brutality. Final regular track “Vulture: The God of Last Rites” is particularly of note, as it combines the doom and scorch in a truly climactic concoction that also adds flavors of melancholic melody and a final kickass riff and solo that sign off in a truly amazing way. Individually, Idolatria bleeds charisma: guitarists P.T. Perversus and M.T. Iracundus revel in tasteful crunch without overwhelming, vocalist M.F. Maeficus combines a nearly death metal roar with a black metal rasp, providing a new dimension of sinister, and drummer B.S. Hircus retains stunning unpredictability throughout.

The only setback to Tetrabestiarchy is found in “Goat: The Servant of Underworld,” which is simply unspectacular. While “Noctule…” features some of the fiercest blastbeats and most dissonant melodies of the album, “Serpent…” sports the best ritualistic doom influence while also a sweet riff to end things, and “Vulture…” combines all influences for a truly climactic ending, “Goat…” feels disappointingly tame – just kinda what you’d expect black metal to sound like. Featuring open strummed chords, slower blastbeats, and a mid-tempo plodding feel, it falls short by comparison. Also, the intro and outro tracks are rather limp, as they hum along for a directionless minute or two. While they feature some neat Gregorian chant cleans distorted to a haunting degree, their meandering quality seems to focus on stretching Tetrabestiarchy to full-length quality. Finally, while the guitars never overstay their welcome with their lovely crunchy tone, they are quite a bit quieter than the vocals or drums, and could stand to dominate the mix a bit more.

It’s saying something that the worst full track is only so because the others are so damn good. Truly, Idolatria has created an extremely balanced affair that channels the sinister and the relentless in equal measure. Featuring subtle orchestral flair, scathing dissonance, punishing percussion, kickass riffs, and a vocalist perfectly suited for the job, Tetrabestiarchy is a dense black metal album that traipses among its influences without diving headfirst into them. What results is four tracks that each establish a sturdy identity of its own without sacrificing the album’s consistency. While it may not be the most unique and they sacrifice their kvltness by having a Bandcamp, Tetrabestiarchy is a feasibly digestible thirty-four-minute exercise in blackened fury and ominous dissonance with comparatively little to complain about, except that I want more.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 12 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Signal Rex
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 4th, 2020

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Just kidding. No one says that.
  2. A fusion of Greek roots whose summative meaning I can only assume means “the four beast rulers.”
  3. A bat, if you were like me and didn’t know.
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