The album I want to discuss in this issue of Looking Back is De Praestigiis Angelorum by french VI. In this orthodox black metal band members of well-established bands of modern black metal such as Aosoth, The Order of Apollyon and Antaeus came together to craft one of the most overlooked albums of 2015.
VI prove that they understand how to fuse their influences with their own ideas to create a sound that is their very much their own even when they wear their hearts on their sleeves. De Praestigiis Angelorum is a violent and uninhibited onslaught of complex and simultaneously catchy, flowing black metal wrought by the band. The concise production bestows incredible urgency on the songs and aids in weaving the nocturnal and passionate atmosphere on this album. The choir samples that the band incorporated in various places throughout the album are most notable during the intro and outro as well as the atmospheric break before the climax on Regarde Tes Cadavres Car Il Ne Te Permettra Pas Qu’on Les Enterre. The samples play an important role in crafting the album’s aura and make for an interesting contrast to the rough and brutal instrumentation. During the intro the samples sound sublime and even angelic whereas further into the album they take on a frightening nuance that is especially present as they close the curtain on De Praestigiis Angelorum at the end of Plus aucun membre ne sera rendu. The most notable use of samples on this album, however, is the aforementioned fourth track, Regarde Tes Cadavres Car Il Ne Te Permettra Pas Qu’on Les Enterre. Preceded by twisted string arrangements and ominous horns, the choir makes its most haunting appearance on this album and sets a disquieting scene before it swells up and the instruments kick back in, unleashing the most fiery and ferocious climax on the entire album that no neck will be able to withstand.
De Praestigiis Angelorum is as much of a well-oiled machine as it is a wild beast. The blazing guitar melodies, high-octane drumming and ample support by the bass come together to form an unbelievably tight and precise performance that sees each of the bandmembers on top of their game. In addition to the impressive musicianship on their debut, VI bring forth great interplay that is a testament to the fact that the band’s formation precedes the album’s release by 8 years, let alone that this was not the first time that these guys had worked on a project together. Seeing as the project had only released an EP and a split prior to its debut album, De Praestigiis Angelorum was a long time coming of five years in the making that would instantly cement the band as a force to be reckoned with in the genre.
VI violently appropriate their influences on this album and make them their own as they channel their impeccable musicianship and synergy into a highly memorable experience and furnish it with a production that couldn’t possibly compliment the music any better, making De Praestigiis Angelorum a debut album that confidently takes its place among the best black metal albums to be released in this decade.