Contra Ignem Fatuum - Detritus
Supernal Music
Atmospheric Black Metal
3 songs (23:39)
Release year: 2005
Supernal Music
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

A shocking thing happened to me recently. Someone on the Metal Reviews forum said that he had heard Contra Ignem Fatuum’s Detritus EP, and that he couldn’t find anything amazing. Now, odds are that you won’t find this shocking, but this is probably because you yourself haven’t heard Detritus, and so are yet to experience the true hypnotic awesomeness that Black Metal can birth. Contra Ignem Fatuum, British, Nietzschean, cynical, and a proud member of the ‘we’re so underground that we don’t even have a MySpace’ set, have made just one EP in their existence, and for a variety of reasons that EP, Detritus, is one of the best pieces of Black Metal ever recorded. It may only last for just over twenty minutes, but never before or since have a band so perfectly managed to combine melancholy and aggressiveness, a hypnotic blaze of emotion that even in the form of three tracks, one over fourteen minutes long, holds you as surely in their steely gaze as if you were watching the end of the world itself.

Not to sound like a fourteen-year-old, but Detritus is truly one of the best Black Metal releases ever. After Blood On The Horizon grabs your attention with its majestic synthwork and martial drumming, the fourteen minute title track flows in seamlessly. Disorienting, droning riffs appear, sliding from one horizon to the other, watched from a distance by the drums, pounding hidden rhythms with bleak hostility on their faces. Above it all, an ancient raven hovers, occasionally cawing harsh words of evil. The overall effect of Detritus is a bit like standing in a foggy field at night, and not knowing which way to turn. Do you start walking towards where you think the gate is, at the risk of getting even more lost, or do you wait for the fog to clear, braving it out? A muddy production helps a lot, reducing instruments to echoes of themselves, reverberating around your head, practically forcing you to close your eyes and ride the music. What always impresses me is that it’s simultaneously hypnotic and repetitive in a way that few bands can manage; of course, there are plenty of changes in the music, but with fourteen minutes to fill its inevitable that there’s some repetition, and Contra Ignem Fatuum do a grand job.

Before you know it, the outro piece Hyperborean Ascension takes the reins and gently guides you back to reality, a funeral choir that speaks faintly of distant hope... Everything about this release is done professionally, even the booklet containing daVincian anatomical drawings and dancing Medieval corpses. All that you’re told about the music is that it was recorded between 2003 and 2005. Heck, it’s taken them four years even to get around to releasing their next opus, which is a demo re-recording and will (fingers crossed) be available on Supernal later this year.

This review, originally written several years ago for another site, has been heavily edited, but it’s amazing how much of my overenthusiastic prose still applies to Detritus. Sometimes you get good Black Metal, quite often you get bad Black Metal, but it’s those extremely rare releases that transcend everything and become art that really have the greatest impact, and whilst the greatest amongst these are those releases that you discover whilst browsing a second-hand record store and then fall in love with – exactly my experience with Detritus – it never hurts to be turned onto a release by someone else, and anyone that enjoys their Black Metal deep, hypnotic and underground will love this.

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