Striges - Verum Veterum
Blut & Eisen Productions
Black Metal
7 songs (40'44")
Release year: 2020
Reviewed by Alex

I have to admit I had no idea about Striges existence until Verum Veterum. As much as I am a fan of Shatraug’s black metal art I probably should have paid more attention, but of course Sargeist and Horna are Shatraug’s more known and wider publicized release avenues. Striges, apparently, has been confined to a studio, and even Verum Veterum is a result of studio exchanges and long distance collaborations. The album, however, is a full-length release, as opposed to a pair of demos spaced six years apart. Now, after another 6 years, Shatraug has partnered with LRH (Horna, Trollheims Grott) on drums and less known Vaedis (Hellgoat) on vocals, and Verum Veterum finally is born.

As much as I loved Death Veneration, the latest new music by Sargeist, and as much as I am still trying to comprehend why Kuoleman Kirjo, the latest album by Horna, is failing to full click with me, Verum Veterum leaves me totally boxed in. I don’t think I can name an album, in a long while, where all individual pieces made sense to me, yet the total simply would not add up. The spirit of early 90s is burning in the coldest bright light on the album, yet it doesn’t set my mind on fire. Vaedis voice enunciates perfectly and adds hellfire in every phrase. LRH’s drums, although pushed into the back of the mix somewhat, blast almost non-stop. Shatraug blizzards away guitar tremolos one after another. If you are a true metal fan, the aesthetics on Verum Veterum check every box, and the narrative remains firmly in control, without going overboard or spilling into unlistenable cacophony. So there I was, listening to track after track, nodding on in appreciation … but when the album was over I failed to recall that one memorable moment which would serve as a key to go back to the album and continue unlocking Striges more and more. Everything just seems to be so perfect, but so predictable and so uniformly same, I almost questioned (but very quietly), as to why these tracks went to Striges, not to a new Horna. Turning the catchy factor up a notch, adding a recognizable melodic inflection would have added a lot to Verum Veterum and pushed it over the top. Perhaps because I waited to hear that magic melodic moment all the way until the last two tracks, Entwined in Shadows, Drawn to Death and An Ancient Mournful Soul, amounted ultimately to the toll Verum Veterum paid, in my evaluation, not to vault further to the top.

Diehard and dedicated fans should still seek this album, and probably will point out my misunderstandings, but I continue to remain Sargeist over Striges fan.

Killing Songs :
Entwined in Shadows, Drawn to Death
Alex quoted 70 / 100
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