Handily joining the ranks of the best French bands whose abuse of the metal ümlaüt prevents their name from being typed without excessive use of the copy/paste function (I'm looking at you, Trörkrvisätänsrökrëh), Rêx Mündi, in all seriousness, deliver a surprisingly rewarding release with 2011's IHVH.
What I like most about this album is its generosity with the song structures. They often swing back and forth between blast-beat-filled, guitar-shredding wankery and quite spacious dark ambiance, and all the while, nothing about it seems forced, dragged out, or rushed. There's almost a ritualistic reverence to the music, with each track betraying an incredibly belaboured, thought-out purpose and design. Sure, a lot of the songs stretch out past the "reasonable length of time" mark, but nothing ever seems like it's there just for padding. This is especially true with the coda to "Raising My Temples", which goes on for incredible lengths without seeming tiresome.
Oh sure, it features plenty of frantic, demonic guitar-churning and scratchy, monstrous lead vocals, as is par for the course. But that's not to say there aren't plenty of welcome surprises, too. "J'imagine (Be-Reshit)" features the most disturbingly-filtered vocal soliloquy I've ever heard, not to mention an especially unnerving ambient introduction; "Patrimoine Génétique" features an incredibly groovy passage of common time forced-triplets alongside some of the most frantic drumming and shredding on the album; and the operatic vocal throes on "Pious Angels (Sefer Seraphim)" are absolutely stunning and incredibly unnerving with their sonorousness. IHVH never lets itself grow stale--it always has something ready to grab your attention, and it never, ever lets go. Musically, Rêx Mündi manage to supererogate without digressing into self-indulgence, a balance that's difficult to achieve and more so to maintain. It's a lot like Opeth's debut Orchid, without being quite as proggy. It's just as cold and uninviting, but with surprising depths to it upon concerted reflection.
All in all, I really enjoyed listening to this album, even if it did take quite a lot of focus. Like a lot of black metal, it isn't going to be doing you any favours, so you really do have to help yourself immerse in the music. But if you do, you'll find it's really quite a solid listen. I definitely recommend it for fans of black metal, or anyone else who would be interested in the aural equivalent of having demonic rites pumped directly into your auricula.
7.5 / 10
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