Most of us who are devoted to music from the black realms have at least a vague idea of what’s intended by the phrase “atmospheric black metal”. That’s probably not the correct genre description for Somnambulistic Visions, the debut album by the Ukrainian band Dis Orcus, yet the music is so persistently creepy, so cold, so stricken with a feeling of encroaching inhuman horror, that its success in creating a nightmarish, vampiric atmosphere is one of its signal accomplishments. True darkness is to be found here.
The songs are almost entirely mid-paced, the reverberating drums devoted to relatively simple rhythms that are somewhere between rocking and ritualistic. There’s virtually no blasting, no displays of physical excess. The beats are not exactly metronomic — they’re too unpredictable for that, too peppered with short snapping tones and bursts of double-bass rumble or martial tattoos — but they don’t get in the way of the main design of the music, which (as I perceive it) is to freeze the blood and to draw the mind into a hideous hallucination. (At the same time, however, they’re very effective in getting your head moving.)