|De Tenebrarum Principio
I have been following Kaiserreich for many years now, since they were accused of copying Darkthrone with their debut "KRRH". By now, I can safely state that the shortcomings of this band from Brescia are well-known and can't be changed: they are unable to jump on the latest bandwagons in black metal; they don't really work too much on marketing or spreading the brand; there is no sign of ground-breaking news regarding revolutionary and game-changing records; no (old) special guests on their albums. As if all these were not enough, the approach to composition adopted by Abraxas, Luce, Krieg, Serpent Est, and Tyrant Morgan — thoroughly loyal to classic black metal — can only be appreciated through careful and patient listenings, while most of my colleagues seem to have preferred the more superficial and quick approach so common these days.
"Cuore Nero" ("Black Heart") is the band's third album, exploring their more introspective face, closer to the depressive-suicidal strand of black metal without completely being a part of it musically. After the tribute to true Norwegian black metal ("KRRH") and the tragic saga based on betrayal and violence in "Ravencrowned", the quintet followed up on the way paved by the track "Solitudes Of Infinite" (included in the split release with Nocturnal Depression), slowing the pace down and enhancing the songs' atmosphere and length. Serpent Est acts as the band's most extreme element, shrieking verses devoid of hope that see death as the one and only moment of peace, through Italian language lyrics and a peculiar screaming style less venomous than usual and more tormented. The words will gradually get familiar the more you listen to the songs. Luce and Abraxas created melancholic melodies and hatred-filled guitar riffs, dynamically supported by Krieg's drumming, able to avoid staticity and excessive repetitions.
The artwork itself conveys feelings of solitude, frost, departure, and a wadded kind of suffering, just like the oppressive but clear production, meant to highlight anguish and negative thoughts without sterilizing the musical environment. The only flaw is in the bass drum, a bit too artificial and not adequate for the context.
Talking about individual songs, the nine minutes of the opening "Unico Sole" ("Unique Sun") immediately express Kaiserreich's intentions and work as a manifesto for the album. "Senza Luce" ("Without Light") emerges with its elaborate structure and the riffing's intensity, while "Ombra Infranta" ("Shattered Shadow") features a more depressive attitude in its first half. The instrumental "Zero Negativo" ("Negative Zero") finally concludes this work lightening the load a little bit, aware of our inevitable doom. As for the bonus tracks, "High Hopes" takes Pink Floyd and successfully makes them into something completely different through an injection of adrenaline and evil, while the new version of "Solitudes Of Infinite" allows anyone who didn't get the split record to add this piece to their collection, seeing how the concept for this album had originated.
In conclusion, Kaiserreich have not released an easily accessible record for the average follower of the Black Flame, and about one hour of introspective and twisting black metal isn't always easy to digest. Only if you taste "Cuore Nero" with the necessary calm and focus, you will be able to grasp its coherence and passion: isn't this part of black metal's true spirit after all?