Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: Antonius Rex - Per Viam (2009, Black Widow)

Judging solely on the cover of this album I expected dark and intense instrumental keyboards dominated music. I was partly right, but wasn’t too surprised with what this cd contains.
Per Viam contains eerie and dark instrumental music (with various vocalizations and processed vocals spread throughout the album) from the prolific husband and wife group of Antonio Bartoccetti and Doris Norton who make up Antonius Rex. Having started out under the moniker of Jacula they began making haunting and fascinating music already in 1968.
I have only heard their output as Jacula and despite being aware of their Antonius Rex project I’ve never had any exposure to their music. Thus, I wasn’t sure whether I should expect something similar to the creepy (in a good way) atmospheres of Jacula or maybe something else. They released 5 albums from 1974 to 1980.
They have remerged in 2005 with a new release and have since released two more albums, Per Viam being their 2009 album.

The album covers various sounds and atmospheric grounds. From creepy industrial settings (Micro Demons), to metal-ish and heavy segments with guitar and keyboards solos (Woman of the King, Per Viam, second part of Spectra) and then to more majestic sounding but still dark synth-dominated pieces (Per Viam).
It can be a creepy listening experience with some tracks, such as Micro Demons, sounding like a sonic representation of a nightmare; a hellish industrial setting with processed vocalizations (screams and spoken). On the other hand, there are more refined pieces and sections of compositions that counteract the cruder sounding parts. However, the horror-movie like music atmosphere is prevalent throughout much of the album and can serve as a good setting for late-night listening if one is interested in achieving a scary and peculiar mood.
The last two tracks on the album are remakes of older pieces. UFDEM is a remake of a Jacula track (a superb one at that, both the original and the remake), whereas Antonius Rex Prophecy is based on a piece by Charles Tiring.

I quite like the feel of this album, its eeriness and oddity. I find its cross-over between a more electronic and synth dominated side and a more rock and heavy inclined tendency is well balanced. I’m not as big a fan of the artificial sound it boasts however. I’d have liked them to use real drums instead of the digital ones, which are the prominent ones here (there are also acoustic drums). These just sound life-less and turn what could be a powerful piece to something much duller and devoid of striking punch. If you seek a dark-sounding album, odd, creepy and scary sounding music, this album should satisfy your needs.

By the way, the track Angels & Demons has melody that I think I recognize from Enigma's music.

Official website
Prog Archives

YouTube clips:
Micro Demons

Woman of the King

Angels & Demons

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