Selvans - Faunalia
Avantgarde Music
Black Orchestral Progressive Metal
6 songs (56'25")
Release year: 2018
Avantgarde Music
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Given that I already called once the 2016 split between Selvans and Downfall of Nur Surprise of the Month I should not have been surprised by the quality of Faunalia. (Listen to Pater Surgens track off of that release if you have any doubts). Yet an hour of Faunalia, now listened to 5 or 6 times, continues to leave me speechless. It has been a while since I have experienced such an emotionally charged album, a literal wall of sound, the overboiling cauldron of passion, wrath and unspeakable pain. Faunalia is a champion of bringing out paroxysmal convulsive achiness from deep inside the soul. I am not ashamed to say once or twice I caught myself shedding a tear thinking some miserable and dejected thoughts while listening to the album.

Don’t think Selvans achieve this palpable emotion by being all melodic and sweet. If anything, Faunalia can be abrasive and almost physically bruising (Requiem Aprutii, Magna Mater Maior Mons). Phersu is literally macabre dungeon thrashing, a torture chamber, warm up conducted in some demented orchestral pit, worthy of Finnish Hammer of Hate label interest. The voices of Selvans are also the embodiment of manic desperation (Notturno peregrinar), the absolutely unhinged rasp. At the same time, and this is a distinctly Selvans feature, they manage to collide this unbridled ripping tragedy with certain symphonics, which, while not being artificial in any way, only exacerbate the sense of heartbreak. Album’s centerpiece Magna Mater Maior Mons is the best testament to that, where the ingress of orthodox choirs provide the sense of not forbearing disaster, but the catastrophe already upon us, happening in front of our eyes or above our heads. The grating riffs not only alternate with the moments of clarity, they coexist with them. Not stopping at this, the duo throws in Italian folk acoustic strums (Magna Mater Maior Mons), opens up songs with Ennio Morricone-like melodies and incorporates Hammond organ (Notturno peregrinar). When you think Anna Perenna is simply percussion-less layered interlude, the composition becomes grandiose, almost macabre because of the hurtful vocals, maintaining both enigmatic and cinematic atmosphere. Distinctly black, almost Finnish metal black, symphonic, orchestral, folk – all at once, Faunalia startles and destroys at the same time. And finally, it is worth mentioning, the opener Ad Malum Finem is some best avant-garde progressive black metal I have heard since the days of Thy Catafalque (highest complement here!), when tiny synth drill bit penetrates the brain allowing lurking darkness to flow inside.

Complex as it is, Faunalia never slips into messy cacophony, there is melody and stout streamlined focus all the while (Magna Mater Maior Mons), which helps to maintain interest throughout. It hurts you aurally, but you don’t want the hurt to end. Perhaps next time I hear another Selvans release in a few years I won’t be surprised again. At least I shouldn’t be. Highest deserved marks to the duo from Abruzzo.

Killing Songs :
Magna Mater Maior Mons, Notturno peregrinar, Requiem Aprutii
Alex quoted 92 / 100
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