Aetherius Obscuritas - Viziok
Paragon Records
Black Metal
12 songs (53'08")
Release year: 2007
Paragon Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

I myself do not have the beat on all of the Hungarian metal, despite the fact that somehow this has been the year for me to review many of the releases originating in this rather original, if not secluded, European country. Paragon Records, on the other hand, may have a direct pipeline into it, signifying at the very least that the local scene has been active.

Aetherius Obscuritas is another Hungarian black metal unit, the result of work by one and only Arkhorrl, known in less kvlt circles as Vágvölgyi Viktor. With the help of Fodor "Zson" László on drums, Viziok (Visions) now sees the light of day, no less than the fourth full-length from the band.

It may very well be that black metal on Viziok is not revolutionary, but it is certainly a confident sounding affair, both paying a lot of homage to the original roots, and surprising in maturity at the same time. At the first glance, Arkhorrl’s platter may appear rather standard, catchy tremolo riffs played to blasting rhythms on many a song. The opening title track certainly starts that way, as well as some other songs, Kövekbe vésett nyugalom (Silence, Hewn in Stone) and Idegenül (As a Stranger), are set up in this general way from the very beginning.

Further perusal, however, shows a more balanced flavor of the Olde Norge school, Aetherius Obscuritas riffs coming off both heroic and tragic at the same time. Sure enough, there is plenty of blasting thrash (The Lockless Door) and misanthropy here, but at the same time there are acoustic religious sprinkles as with the acoustic & choir moments on Journey to Immortality and painfully familiar acoustic melody played against a backdrop of sampled northern wind in the instrumental Who Never Really Left. What surprises the most is the songwriting craft demonstrated by Arkhorrl on Viziok. The songs here are not mere collections of riffs, but are, indeed, songs, even if they result from a sequence of repeating alternating parts. In this way Mysterious Path of Desires comes off as a storytelling experience and Kilenc tele a ködnek (Nine Winters of Mist) stops the shred to become a flowing sing-along, only to end up blasting everything to smithereens yet again towards the end. There are a number of very strong prominent and memorable melodies on Viziok, most notably two finishing off the title track and the one wrapping up the album and foreshadowing apocalypse on Holtszak (Dead Season).

Another interesting factor is Arkhorrl not going over the top with the vocals. Most of the time it is a dry Hoest-like voice, without a hint of any disgusting vomitous shriek, unless it is required by creeping psychedelia as on Black Moorland.

Not overly punishing, Viziok is black metal for both dark night driving and sunny day work outdoors. Even if Arkhorrl was inspired by Burzum in his early days, he has moved on sounding nowadays a lot more like old Kampfar, some of the Taake material and related Ragnarok (and whadda you know, Ragnarok cover is here and Jontho is being thanked), some hints of pagan and folk brushed up against non-compromising black metal palette.

Killing Songs :
Viziok, Journey to Immortality, Black Moorland, Who Never Really Left, Holtszak
Alex quoted 80 / 100
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