Draconis Infernum [Singapore]
The Sacrilegious Eradication
The release of The Sacrilegious Eradication has placed Draconis Infernum at the forefront of the vanguard in the regional South-East Asian Black Metal fraternity. With this, their third release, the band’s conceptual vision and musical identity are both defined and proclaimed with uncompromising clarity. With two critically-acclaimed predecessors (Death in My Veins and Rites of Desecration and Demise), The Sacrilegious Eradication lends form and stability to a nascent but undeniably promising oeuvre. The technical and formal experimentation in both previous releases has matured into a structured synthesis that marries several established intra-genre styles of execution. The resultant product does not resemble a simple pastiche of stylistic variegation so much as a well-developed alloy that pays homage to, but is independent of, its constituents.
The stylistic range that The Sacrilegious Eradication manages to cover is particularly remarkable, and is arguably the record’s defining feature. Bestial and Orthodox Black Metal in the vein of Impiety, Besatt and Diocletian form one pole of the spectrum which Draconis’ brand spans; the other being heavy-melodic variants of which Inquisition’s Invoking the Majestic Throne of Satan and Taake’s pseudo-classical Over Bjoergvin Graater Himmerik are prime examples. Draconis’ overall sound inhabits the space between these two stylistic tethers, with each track situated at a particular point on the trajectory. With this constant interpolation between styles, Draconis Infernum succeeds in breaking the one-dimensional Orthodox monotony that has become characteristic of Black Metal from the region. Yet the individual tracks do not countermand each other, but yield a discerning, well-developed overall aural identity that the band can call its own.
Key to this success, and deserving of particular praise, is the strong writing of both guitar and basslines. An example of the stylistic interpolation that is employed in the writing is heard on the third track off the release, Anathema, which features an initially Orthodox bassline that burgeons into a fully-fledged melody in counterpoint to the guitar passages which are similarly layered in configuration. This shift provides the track with the dimensionality that is so often lacking in regional bands. The guitarwork throughout the record is especially well-executed and complements the phenomenal writing. Trampling the Divine features guitarwork of exceptional quality, with pronounced lead tangents bringing the strength of the writing to the fore. Also instrumental to the success of the record is its formidable drumming. The rhythmic complexity on The Sacrilegious Eradication extends far beyond the circumscription of blastbeat-laden monotony, and together with the complex basslines, provides the guitars with a fitting rhythmic canvas.
Lyrically, The Sacrilegious Eradication is relatively unsubstantial. A limited thematic locus oscillates between ritual and violence, remaining firmly entrenched in Orthodox territory. That being said, the lyrics do still provide navigable scaffolding for the listener to attempt entry into the ideological substrate of the work. The release also features two covers: Impiety’s Anal Madonna and Urgehal’s We Are Unholy. It should be noted that the rigidity of covering two well-known pieces, while detracting from the overall direction of the release, goes some way toward paying homage to the band’s heritage and diverse constellation of influences. The choice of covers proclaim Draconis’ bond to local and regional fraternities, while also managing to lift the band from regional-centricity.
The Dying Light is easily the best-written track on the release, and in the opinion of this reviewer, features the most nuanced and well-articulated guitarlines on any regional release to date. Not much can be said about the track itself that has not already been said about the record in its entirety, save for the fact that it is the most complete expression of the musical and conceptual motives underpinning this project. It must be said that The Sacrilegious Eradication is not merely a regional success or an opus for the regional fraternity, but a victory of note for the genre.