Lugubrum - _Al Ghemist_
(Paniac, 2001)
by: Alvin Wee (7 out of 10)
It takes a cover painting as brilliant as this to convince the underground types to drop their black/white sleeves for full color ones... still, limiting it only to the vinyl edition retains the notorious elitism of the scene. Decked out in glorious hue comes the steaming new offering from Belgian barbarians Lugubrum, black and twisted as ever. Already semi-famous for their brand of "Boersk Black Metal", Lugubrum smash home their claim to being one of neo-BM's sickest troupes these days, amalgamating a gurgling riot of slowed-beyond-recognition Mayhem, classic Darkthrone rhythm and an impeccable ear for dissonance to create one of the most nauseating finds this quarter. I'm hard pressed to explain the twistedness of this band's black art; suffice it to say that _Al Ghemist_ reeks of an underground stench paralleled only by early Mayhem or Carpathian Forest. Alternating mid-paced, almost-tuneful riffing with swirling passages of diseased sluggishness, the record never lapses into the monotony typical of this genre (read: Clandestine Blaze), yet retains the hypnotic aura of evil often alluded to in early interviews with Fenriz. Still, it never once strikes me as being even remotely essential listening, considering the deluge of such material out there. The breathtaking cover art done by the guitarist himself remains the most striking aspect of the album, the Cathedral-shot-to-hell feel of the painting epitomising the hallucinatory twistedness Lugubrum stand for. All in all, an album to be treasured more by the die-hards than anyone else, and more so for vinyl-maniacs: an extra track and the fabulous artwork are not to be found on the CD version.


(article published 14/1/2002)

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