Recently, the black metal bands Abigor, Nightbringer, Thy Darkened Shade, and Mortuus recorded and released a split in which they did not only try to pay homage to the days of orthodox underground black metal, but also to the phenomena of tunnels and the depths below. Naturally, these phenomena have to be interpreted in an occult and esoteric context in order to be understood fully. Simply spoken, one could say that the deeper one travels, the closer he or she gets to the light. A few weeks earlier, the Portuguese black metal band Black Cilice released its EP Nocturnal Mysticism, on which the band seems to, at least atmospherically, travel on a similar yet not entirely parallel path.
The first of the two tracks starts slowly with calm, meditative guitars and the sound of wind. Those who listened to early Mortiis albums and saw Håvard Ellefsen walk through dungeons in the video to his song ‘Reisene til grotter og ødemarker’ will immediately recognize this specific atmosphere which tries to evoke pictures of ancient castles, ruins, dungeons, and tunnels. But after about two-and-a-half minutes, the black metal parts, namely very simplistic drums and sharp yet minimal guitars, kick in and are reinforced by howling vocals which are mixed into the background. Nevertheless, even though these harsher and more aggressive parts take up the rest of the track, the song does not simply become brutal. Thanks to the ambient background and some epic melodies, this first part manages to keep its overall grundstimmung.
Basically, the same accounts for part two, which is a direct continuation of the first track. But at the beginning of the second song, one has reached the most sinister sounding passage of this EP. Here, one can also most clearly recognize the connection to the aforementioned bands and their concept of the tunnel. The furiously, though admittedly a bit erratically, played drums and guitar walls create a claustrophobic feeling akin to being buried under earth. It’s only in the last two minutes of the song that Black Cilice returns to the calm atmosphere of the beginning of the first track and, therefore, completes the idea and the concept behind Nocturnal Mysticism.
Even though the Portuguese band has not created anything innovative with this small release, they have paid tribute to a typical atmosphere of the black metal genre which used to be present in Norway and elsewhere in the early nineties. Black Cilice has also managed to give their EP its own identity. This is no release which only functions to publish some leftover tracks or some cover songs which were recorded a few years ago. These two compositions are kept together by a specific lyrical and musical concept. And while the overall atmosphere of Nocturnal Mysticism is a bit lighter and closer to the surface, one can still—at least conceptually—compare it to the split created by Abigor, Nightbringer, Thy Darkened Shade, and Mortuus.
01) Nocturnal Mysticism Part I
02) Nocturnal Mysticism Part II