Label: Signal Rex
Release Date: 04 September 2020
Format reviewed: High-quality Digital Recording
For five years something dark has been brewing in the picturesque alpine foothills of north-eastern Italy. On the fourth day of September 2020 it manifested itself in the form of “Tetrabestiarchy”, the second full length album from the black metal quartet Idolatria,released through the label Signal Rex.
I was initially drawn to this album based on the title alone, which I would loosely interpret to mean something like ‘four ruling beasts’ (Tetra- the Greek numerical prefix for four; Besti- as in bestial; -archy as in a style of rule/ government). Linguistics aside, the four main tracks on the album are represented by four creatures: “Serpent: The Father of Darkness”, “Noctule: The Emperor of Scourge”, “Goat: The Servant of the Underworld”, and “Vulture: The God of Last Rites”. Aside from these four tracks there is a brief intro and an outro (both ambient instrumentals), meaning that the album is on the shorter side, running for only 33 minutes. Thankfully though, there is a lot of substance jammed into this run time.
Idolatria serve a fairly conventional style of modern black metal with a clean, crisp sound and high production value. The beauty of what they offer is in the construction of the atmosphere and the changes of tone and tempo within the songs.
Track one, “Serpent: The Father of Darkness”, is a stand-out on the album, opening with a slow, sinister edge before exploding into a bubbling cocktail of roaring vocals, frantic guitars and blast beats. I have to admit that on my first listen, it wasn’t until about halfway through the track that I really settled in and became comfortable with the composition. This feeling was mirrored for the album as a whole but on my subsequent playthroughs I was decidedly entranced.
“Tetrabestiarchy” provides a lot of variety to capture and hold your interest throughout, for instance track three, “Noctule: The Emperor of Scourge”, commences with a full force black metal assault but by the time you reach the closing of the track you are being bathed in soft ambience and sophisticated guitar work. This seamless delivery of disparate moods within tracks feels like adept wizardry.
Overall, “Tetrabestiarchy” is an exceptional album. The riffs are catchy, there are fun tempo changes and interesting dissonant tones and effects on the guitars, while the drums are exciting and unpredictable. The vocals are solid, being primarily a death-esque growling style and perfectly compliment the band. There are also captivating, monastic, chanting backing vocals sprinkled throughout. The band are skillful in creating ambience, building atmospheres and just as skilled at shattering them in an instant. I can certainly see myself returning to this album for a few more rounds. 7/10 Proua Metallist.