Artist: AFFECTVS & Lamia Culta (united they form Corona Barathri)
Album: Blessings from the Darkness [Opus II] (Black Mara, Corona Barathri)
Release date: 15 April 2017
Label: Black Mara Records

01. Retson Retap
02. Verbum Portae Aperio
03. In Nomine Mali
04. Nahema Sinistra
05. Luna Sacra, Luna Atra
06. Reiran Modor Lilith
07. Spirits Ov Damned
08. Sama Atar
09. Manifestatio Ahriman
10. Notammargartet

In my recent review of Dødsmaskin I covered an historical account of witch trials in the Northern regions of Scandinavia. This time around we focus on something much more current and active. Blessings from the Darkness [Opus II] by AFFECTVSLamia Culta is the incantation of a darkened dæmoniacal form of ritual ambient. I composed this review at 3am, the witching hour, with a generous portion of my homemade blend of Aleister Croweley’s Oil of Abramelin anointing my forehead. I have fully prepared my spirit and third eye for this experience. This is the same process as I’ve done through the many times of listening to this album. It only seems right with Blessing from the Darkness to fully succumb to its malevolence. This isn’t an arbitrary darkness where you feel sensations of solitude or melancholia. This is pitch black malignancy. Luciferian. Ritualistic. All encompassing. The sense of pure evil spews from the very core of Blessing from the Darkness. The artists never allow a second of time where their offering does not seem genuine.

physical edition 1AFFECTVS Lamia Culta have both been producing music for several years. As individual artists, they both have strong occult leanings. Their solo albums have been enjoyable and noteworthy. But, in 2016 their collaborative album Homines Sacerrimi on the American dark/ritual ambient label Noctivagant Records delivered a brilliantly dark performance of epic proportions. 2017 sees the duo move to Black Mara Records of Russian origin. On Black Mara they are able to compose a fully realized work of art, from the aural presentation through the physical manifestation of their album.

Blessing from the Darkness is a demanding listen. You will not want to put this on in that background while studying or writing a book or poem. The form of ritual ambient presented herein is highly active in its delivery. Both musicians take their roles to the extreme. While this may lower the times that it is fitting to enjoy this opus, it does not take away from its high-quality and expert execution.

lamiaculta1“Verbum Portae Aperio” may be one of the crowning achievements of the album. Both artists showcase their absolute best skills, leaving behind any sense of doubt in the listener. After Lamia Culta‘s invocations at the beginning of the ritual, we are encompassed by sounds conjured from the depths of hell. Demons writhe and scream in the background. Deep bellowing voices appear as she repeats the invocation, “Satan!, Satan!, Satan!”. This intensity gently subsides as she goes from screaming Latin incantations to softly singing as the track comes to its close.

Following “Verbum Portae Aperio” we have an utterly exquisite scene. “In Nomine Mali” is much slower paced. The drones are hollow, like winds rushing through the physical edition 2depths of some ancient cavern, delivering the thick incense smoke past the nostrils before vanishing into the abyss. Following her invocation of Satan, Lamia Culta gasps and moans in ecstasy as if the dark lord has been offered her body for his enjoyment. Sacrificing herself to his will, she is fully prepared for the continuation of this diabolical rite. As the rest of Blessings from the Darkness continues, this moment hangs in my mind, never loosening its grip. The deep, rumbling, infernal growls match the euphoria of Lamia Culta, as if that fiendish lord of the underworld has truly savored his offering.

The absolute dedication to their cause is not the only reason to find praise for this hellish rite. The technical prowess of both musicians is utterly praiseworthy. Lamia Culta allows her vocal range to go from screaming, deep, guttural growls to gentle whispers, to enchantingly beautiful singing. As a listener, it’s a truly marvelous experience.

The emotion of Lamia Culta‘s vocal delivery is only part of the reason to find oneself fully encompassed by Blessing from the Darkness. AFFECTVS showcases an absolute mastery of the ritual ambient style. Comparisons to Shibalba can easily be made. But where Shibalba showcase a more conservative aspect of the ritual ambient genre, AFFECTVS takes it to utter extremes. From the howling wind field recordings, to the hypnotic drones, he builds an atmosphere that is visualized with the greatest of easy. The tribal drumming, chimes, and other ritual instrumentation adds yet another layer of authenticity to the rite.

These are two artists that were clearly born to collaborate. The combination of Lamia Culta‘s intense vocal delivery along with the thick, all-encompassing ritual ambient elements of AFFECTVS make for an experience that is not too be ignored. That is, if you will allow yourself to be witness to such a frenzied dark ritual.

special edition 3Offered on Black Mara Records, its not a surprise that the physical release will be presented with some truly unique additions. It comes with a hand-made leather “magic book” which includes the CD, pictures and art, along with a guide to meditation and a detailed description of the album. Even more, it comes with a scarf with the sigil for meditation and a pouch filled with an herbal mix they call “The Evil Smoke”. It would appear that Black Mara have truly outdone themselves on this release, going to great lengths to conjure this dark ritual from its aural realms into a physical manifestation.

For fans of ritual ambient this album will surely delight many listeners. The style is far from the usual ritual ambient. It is taken in a wholly unique direction. Dark ambient fans that don’t mind stepping outside their comfort zone should also find Blessing from the Darkness to be a highly enjoyable journey. Considering the extremes Lamia Culta takes her vocals, this album could even impress listeners completely outside the genres of ambient music. There is no doubt that as these two artists grow as musicians and become even more accustomed to working in unison, we are bound to hear their style develop even further. Though, staying on this current path would be perfectly acceptable. They seem to have found the ideal formula for the presentation of their rituals.

Written by: Michael Barnett