AN NCS ALBUM PREMIERE (AND A REVIEW): CAEDEOUS — “MALUM SUPPLICIUM”
Our first in-depth exposure to the music of the Portuguese symphonic black metal band Caedeous was last year, when we premiered their third album, Obscurus Perpetua. When we did that, we advised listeners “to take your seats and get a firm grip on something solid before embarking on this journey”, because we found the album to be “a dazzling, diabolical, and disorienting trip through the imperiums of Hell”:
“The music is elaborate and unpredictable, theatrical and bombastic, sometimes breathtaking in its splendor but always as scary as your worst nightmares. Fascinating music, to be sure, but also demented and intensely unnerving.”
And now we’re re-connecting with Caedeous just one year later because they’ve made a new album, and once again we’re hosting its full streaming premiere. The name of the new one is Malum Supplicium. Like its two predecessors, it’s a concept album, one that “thematically tells horror stories inspired by Lovecraft, Barker and Alighierie‘s works — the eternal struggle between good and evil, angels and demons, heaven and hell”.
As before, the new record is principally the work of Paulo J. Mendes, but as before he has received assistance from guests — this time session bassist Rich Gray (Annihilator) and mezzo-soprano Rosmerta, who makes her Caedeous debut on this album, along with vocalist/lyricist Thomas Blanc, guitarist Douglas Melchiades, and drummer/percussionist Federico Leone.
Malum Supplicium sprawls across 9 tracks, plus another 9 that provide an orchestral interpretation of them. The first of the album’s tracks, “SCALAS AD INFEROS“, provides a foreboding introduction to the record’s tale. Bells toll as an imperiously demonic voice provides the narration. Symphonic orchestration and choral voices reveal the terror of Hell’s gates opening — but the real terrors come to life in the next track, “CRUXIS INFERNI“.
There, horrifying screams and malignant growls assault the senses, backed by vast orchestral firestorms, militaristic percussive assaults, and avalanche-strength bass-undercurrents. Even when the sweeping sonic flames briefly recede, the atmosphere of evil does not — the symphonic strings remain a channel of fear and impending ruin.
As the tracks continue to unfold, Caedeous continue rendering the frightening narrative on a grand scale, dominated by both the dramatic immensity of the orchestration and the absolutely horrifying vocal expulsions. The drum rhythms continually shift, adding to the music’s unnerving effects but also providing dynamism, and somehow the bass isn’t overwhelmed but instead manages repeatedly to seize attention with nimble and nuanced liveliness, and spectacular guitar soloing periodically sends the music further into the red zone of delirium.
The classically influenced orchestration in the songs is almost relentlessly elaborate and breathtaking in its sweep. Coupled with the paint-stripping shrieks, the monstrous gutturals, the fanatical gang-yells, and shrill, discordant keyboards, it creates a powerfully daunting atmosphere — as if to proclaim that here is the end of the world as we know it.
Even the more melodic solos sound like agony and hopelessness, and when Rosmerta adds her pure, operatic voice (for example, in “OBSCURA ASCENSIONIS“), it somehow makes the experience even more harrowing.
Some of the songs also deliver a viciously thrusting and jolting kind of physicality (see especially “PANDEMONIUM” and the title track), but the drumming is never far away in any of these tracks from providing its own vivid kick to the listener’s pulse.
If you’re expecting any kind of sharp or sudden relent in the over-the-top spectacles, perish the thought: Caedeous is utterly devoted to portraying the horrors of its concept in the most overpowering, senses-shattering methods available to them. Where a concept includes the clash between Heaven and Hell, the enormity of the idea seems to have demanded the sounds of a symphony orchestra operating at full power, plus the integration of heavy metal instrumentation at its most viscerally compulsive… and of course those utterly terrorizing vocals.
Well, there is some relent, but only when you move into the orchestral version of the opening track. There, the bells toll again and ashes seem to fall in clouds. This time a woman provides the dramatic rendering of the narrative, eventually yielding the stage to cannon-shot percussion, increasingly traumatic strings, and the soaring tones of Rosmerta‘s voice. And you can take that as a sign that the second group of 9 tracks include their own surprises.
Malum Supplicium was mixed and mastered by Rich Gray at Gray Matter Audio Studios in Soham, England, and it’s being released tomorrow (April 21st) by MDD Records as a double CD. As noted, in addition to the regular album on the first CD, the second one contains the complete work in an orchestral version of the music.
Nuclear Blast: https://www.nuclearblast.de/caedeous-malum-supplicium-2cd-1065030