Date: November 19th, 2021
Scarce information in the otherwise neatly designed inlay made me look outside for more. Thus I got to the official website of the band, only to discover a following sentence: “Death obsessed chaotic blastbeat worship since 2005”. And I’ll tell you what, it’s not misleading all that much. The thing that doesn’t fit is the opener of the sentence. This is not that much “death obsessed”. More of a “Bible obsessed”, considering how much of the scriptures is in the songs here.
Then again, this is a compilation of two early EPs of De Magia Veterum, so perhaps the point of view has changed later on. I say perhaps, because I will hardly look to acquire the followers of these two. In all fairness, I wouldn’t even go for the second EP had it not been on the flip side of the same tape. This way, when in Rome… Well, in the Netherlands, to be exact, if you haven’t figured that out from the mere fact Zwaertgevegt released it.
The thing is, these two recordings came out right at the time when black metal has gone fully berserk. Right around 2005 or 2006 these kinds of projects started to spurt out from just about everywhere. One-man bands that looked to emanate what Bathory, Burzum, Darkthrone and their likes invented about a decade (or more, in the case of the first mentioned) prior to this boom. Lo-fi, raw, primitive black metal. Production non-existent, riffing completely derivative, with no imagination whatsoever, simple blast-beating all over the place, rabid screaming without expression… Resulting in utter chaos, bordering on noise. All the creativity has gone towards the older bands that went in directions often completely opposite from the roots.
All seemed lost for the primeval black terror.
Now that the trend has faded, and the talentless impersonators are found for what they actually are, black metal has turned into something much bigger that it initially was. But I’m not here to discuss the state of the scene, 2022 AD.
Not to sound completely without accord, De Magia Veterum had something back then. However, it is my opinion that Mories, the sole member, didn’t quite have the skill to work out all the kinks to create something that might stand the test of time. And it wasn’t for the lack of trying. The list of the bands the guy was in is spectacular. Most of them one or two-man projects. Truth be told, I’m afraid my brain would burst wide open if I only tried to check even half of them out. Just looking at the genres is petrifying. Noise, black, experimental, avant-garde… Holy hell…
With both materials present here, it is obvious that De Magia Veterum ticks all the boxes of the above mentioned abomination that stood for black metal. Creatively, it is, for the better part, substandard. Particularly when the songs transition from one part to another. It sounds like a broken record that just skips from one bit to another. It gets slightly better on “The Blood of Prophets and Saints”, but only just.
However, there are ideas here that could’ve been used much more effectively. A riff or a lead here and there that stand out. A guitar solo is present. Bass guitar, often completely overlooked by similar projects, is fully in the mix. Some atmospheric synths and chants can give a nice feeling. Sampled voices quoting from the Bible are a neat and unpredictable addition.
But it all falls down when compiled with the raw brutality of the majority of recorded material. Especially if you add in this rough (lack of) production skills. It takes a whole lot of getting used to the sound of this tape. Once you do, provided you make it that far, you will be able to notice the nuances I’ve mentioned above. Whether they will be enough for you to go on following De Magia Veterum onward…
By the way, should you choose to, everything recorded under this moniker is available for download at the official website of the band. Of course, I would like to insist that you support the label and go to their page, order some real Dutch diamonds and if De Magia Veterum is what your heart desires, get this tape as well. Though it is limited to just eighty pieces and mine in numbered twenty one.