Review / Monte Penumbra – as Blades in the Firmament

Perhaps it’s a public failure to understand how those outside the more contemporary spheres of black metal still sequester the majority of the genre within the confines of Scandinavia. That’s egregiously false. Black metal is an oozing wavelength that eats through the temporal moment with frenetically caustic extremities, both in content and sonic depth. This often gets whitewashed as societally transgressive due to the content choices of NSBM. It is unquestionable that the genre, as a whole, is an embodiment of sonic extremity. However, black metal does not, nor need it not, stand solely upon a tortured pedestal of sonic societal transgression.

The ethos regardless of the categorization, be that societally conscious or extreme, has a tendency to find roots in a pagan presence. Specifically, an emanating aura lingering in occult ideologies that have relationships to the forest or nature. The spiritual embodiment of fruition juxtaposed by damnation, and posing nature as beautifully unforgiving. On Monte Penumbra’s recent release as Blades in the Firmament, ‘Black Mold on Rye Grass’ is a gloriously malignant example of the aforementioned aura. Waves of spellbinding decay are hurled at the listener, smothering them in sound. 

The Portuguese project also continues a format that has prospered in the black metal realm since its inception — one individual being the mastermind. W.uR is the druid behind Monte Penumbra, receiving percussive assistance from Bjarni Einarsson. Whatever they conjured forth to complete as Blades in the Firmament rivals the immensity of Imperial Triumphant’s masterful Alphaville from last year. Monte Penumbra tapped into a root that oozed forth blood, pain, and pus. They proceeded to channel that hellish sap directly into the album. The climatic track, ‘Trephining the Severed Head of the Oracle’, literally feels like the archaic, and demented, practice. Sonic swaths grind forth into the flesh and bone of the listener’s skull.

as Blades in the Firmament more than lives up to the deepest core of the black metal ethos. It is harrowingly beautiful.

as Blades in the Firmament is out now via Oration Records and can be ordered here.

Words by: Garrett A. Tanner

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