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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Review: Yaotzin – Artificum Dei Luciferi

Label: Zwaertgevegt

Date: January 11th, 2022

Somehow I always find it tricky writing about veterans of the music business. Well, business might be too strong of a word when it comes to veterans of underground metal, but the point stands. Of course, I’m not unfamiliar with Yaotzin. Their name popped up every once in a while in myriads of zines, compilations… Also, my own connection to the Dutch black metal scene is well recorded on pages of Abaddon Magazine and elsewhere, so it’s only natural that the band which came into existence in 1995 must be on my radar.

Hence my delight when the recent trade with Zwaertgevegt included the fresh album, their third full length, first after the 2008’s “Mors Christii”. What’s more, this turned out to be a record that could easily be dubbed the pinnacle of their career so far. Except for the cover artwork which is highly unimaginative and could ward off many potential listeners.

The quintet is, expectedly, still highly motivated by the old ages of black metal. Simply, it’s the sound they grew up with. It’s what got them hooked to the dark musical spectrum and it’s where their hearts lay. Yaotzin’s music is rooted in the first wave black metal, but grows into the second wave Scandinavian sonority. However, the Dutch are also branching out in a couple of distinct paths. I dare say, somewhat Greek, but that’s not all there is to it.

You see, the thing is, there are a lot of intricate details to this release. The actual prime success of “Artificum Dei Luciferi” is that it sounds straight-forward, when in reality, it comprises many factors. Let’s focus on the mentioned first wave. In particular, I’m thinking of Celtic Frost. Yaotzin takes the cryptic, doomy atmosphere and the, yet unsurpassed, sense of obscure harmony that the Swiss legends invented. That’s one of the building blocks. The second one being the melodic work of the second wave. Like Satyricon used to do, in their prime. Those leads one can never forget once they’re heard.

The next pieces used by the Dutch are harder to explain. There’s this subtle flirt with death metal which mostly occurs in the rhythmic section. That’s probably what got me thinking of the Hellenic black metal influences. Like Varathron, for instance. In combination with the above mentioned it does give a peculiar combination.

At first, it does need a bit of getting used to it. However, once it sits, it hardly leaves the throne it set in the devotees’ mind. It would seem like Yaotzin have taken all that is best in the most prominent trails of black metal and used it to their advantage. In doing so, the band has crafted a soundscape rarely witnessed. Even more rarely on this level of expertise. But that’s probably the question of experience, knowledge and talent gained with a couple of decades on the job. Once again, I must complement the fact that this album sounds straight-forward, having so much diversity within its forty eight minutes.

So, I must conclude, The Netherlands’ black metal fails to disappoint yet again. Unfortunately, the scene remains hidden from sight of most fans, while any corpse-painted teen out of Scandinavia gets all the attention he desires. I’ll say it, over and over again: while browsing for Sinister, Thanatos, God Dethroned or Asphyx, head over to Zwaertgevegt where you might find some illusive gems of underground. The sheer number of them is impressive. And the quality keeps the gods on their knees. Trust me.