In my discreetly long career in Aristocrazia, several times I came across experimental, complex and difficult to understand albums; however, I rarely found myself so confused as with Reborn In Butterfly.
Arcanus Incubus is certainly not a stranger here, having passed on our site with different projects; the same Hanormale positively impressed the undersigned 天照大御神 with his psycho-musical experiment. This work appears to be definitely less alienating than its predecessor, but not for this the methodology with which it was produced is less experimental.
At first glance, Reborn In Butterfly does not seem to be particularly difficult to listen to, even though a black metal album with strong jazz influences and constantly invaded by the varied contributions of thirteen (plus two guests) artists can be simple; despite being so peculiar, the initial sensation is that of a work that, all in all, is nothing transcendental, risking even to play inconsistent in a certain sense. As the ladder runs, however, the idea that there is much more than it seems is getting louder; one feels the need for a second listening, then a third, a fourth and a fifth… until one remembers and realizes the experimental nature of this record does not reside so much in its final result, as in the process of composition: someone could tend to forget or deliberately put aside this feature, as it is often barely perceptible to the listener, but in this case it is an element of primary importance.
The record’s production begins with the drums by Mox Cristadoro, already a member – among others – in Monumentum’s In Absentia Christi; his contribution to the album is inspired by the reading of randomly extracted words from an Italian dictionary on which the patterns were modeled. It would be interesting to know the words used, but ultimately what matters is that this process has generated a wide range of rhythmic bases further expanded by the collaboration with Marco Zambruni, who takes care of the most extreme side of the drums, leaving the progressive to the colleague. Switching from the furious and very black blast beat of the first track to the jazz sophistication of “Like A Hug, Darkness Embrace Us All” and then to the monolithic slowness of the doom influenced “Human”? should give an idea of the rhythmic variety of the album.
Starting from this point, already in itself beyond the conventions, hell is unleashed by other musicians, some already known, others less. Remaining in the rhythmic field, Ste Naked offers his services to Hanormale both with a normal bass, and with the particular deep sound of an Ashbory; it is also a pleasure to rediscover the industrial percussions of Jeko, already met in 天照大御神 and in the Progetto Sperimentale Infonebbia debut and whom this time we can hear working with Sfera6 from Azzam Bells, involved in the (post-)atmospheric rock sections of “Hakuzosu” and “Candentibus Organis”.
The variety of the instrumentation is fully perceptible also in the melodic compartment: the piano is presented both in jazz sauce and inspired by contemporary music, mainly by the hand of Luca Rampini with the elegant inclusion of Federico D’Ercole in “Iperrealismo”; the violinist Zrcadlo (live session for Furor Gallico, as well as a member of Celtic Harp Orchestra and Trewa) appears in several songs, taking advantage of his expertise in folk in “Al Tanoura” and reminding me even of the psychedelic gentlemen A Forest Of Stars in “Satan Is A Status Symbol”; the saxophone by Emiliano Bazzoni offers its contribution both in the chaotic and dissonant moments of “The Search For The Zone” and in the more refined ones in “Hyperrealism”, demonstrating excellent skills in both contexts; peculiar tools such as the didgeridoo and the dan moi are, finally, prerogative of Igor Carravetta. To all this, of course, the two guitars must be added: the black one by Deimos – former member of the death metal band Mechanical God Creation — and the red one by Dirac Sea, coming from the alternative rock band Orcassassina.
At this point, it’s easy to imagine how even the vocal parts are not at all monothematic: the caustic screams and growl are the work of Arghangel Martyrium 999, while Aldous Colciago uses a deeper clean style; in addition to the instruments, moreover, Carravetta also delights with the khoomei, the harmonic singing typical of some areas of Asia that introduces the album. One of the most interesting vocal moments, however, is Gab from Deviate Damaen’s long monologue in “Rare Green Areas”: I do not want to spoil anything, but you should know you will hardly hear something like this in an extreme metal album. The lyrics — mainly in English, with the exception of Latin in “Candentibus Organis” and Gab’s Italian parts — include the Japanese legend of “Hakuzosu”, references to themes typical of black metal such as Satan, close encounters of the third type with drunks in front of SoundCave and other things that are more or less surreal and abstract.
You don’t need me to praise Arcanus Incubus for the umpteenth time about his use of keyboards, synthesizers and samples — although I find it hard not to mention the excellent use of electronics in “Rare Green Areas”: it is clear that if Reborn In Butterfly is an over the top album, the merit goes mainly to its creator and his ability to make artists of completely different worlds coexist in the Hanormale universe. «Ideas come from chaos» is the sentence with which the work is described, but one wonders which idea has led to the inclusion in this context of a passage titled “Ghettoblaster Black Metal” which, with its immediacy typical of a hymn to the Devil, almost sounds like a hybrid between “Black Metal Ist Krieg” and “Christraping Black Metal”; the same context, however, that hosts “Candentibus Organis” — inspired by the homonymous vespro dedicated to Santa Cecilia — and “It Is Happening Again”, an extreme version of the theme of Laura Palmer of “Twin Peaks” placed in the opening.
It’s amazing how all this works perfectly and, at the same time, it’s so chaotic and inscrutable that it maintains until the end that feeling of not fully understanding that pushes to a continuous relistening in the hope of discovering new details that inevitably jump out. Even the graphic work — made up of paintings by Mauro Mantovani, with the exception of the butterfly by Juliya Pankratova — easily catches the attention: colorful where the title insect appears, dark and dull where human figures are present.
We could go on and describe Reborn In Butterfly more deeply: however, an album like this is to be tested in first person, because the words of a reviewer — however numerous — will hardly be able to express a similar experience in a complete way. If, with 照大御神, I arrived too late to be able to put it in my end-of-the-year Top 5, this time Hanormale has the honor of being the first candidate of 2019.