2005 seems like multiple lifetimes ago. It was a significant year for me personally, and also for SOLFERNUS, who at the time was releasing their first full-length monstrosity titled Hysteria in Coma. Now in 2021, this unholy testament has been called to wreak new havoc through the conspiring acts of Lava Productions (Czech Republic), Godz Ov War Productions (Poland), Azermedoth Records (Mexico), Satanath Records (Russia), and Slovak Metal Army. In order to properly recognize this hellish occurrence, we will venture back to relive its past glory while reveling in its enduring power. SOLFERNUS channels their own unique essence into the riffs and other elemental arrangements of Hysteria in Coma, and its fury prevails across time for a notably vicious and epic black metal assault.
Ancient soundscapes are evoked by the dark introductory ambience of “Lucifer’s Orchestra,” which leads to the onslaught of frenzied blast beats and tremolo heaviness on “Advent Massacra.” The harmonies create a looming cold as raspy vocals emerge, and the rhythmic force progresses into a mid-paced groove with chilling dissonance. Madness recommences and breaks into an elated passage with atmospheric and solo effects before shifting to “Bros of Inferno.” The fury expands with speed riffs that combine with raging blasts to reach heightened levels of intensity, and a variation of tremolo melodies and double bass adds further punishment before the grinding wrath persists alongside layers of diabolical vocal alternations. Ambient notes also strike within these developments as they advance toward a brooding atmosphere on “Victoria Karisma,” along with the eerie melodies coming through its slower pace. It carries a dark flow as the progressions culminate with harmonics into an epic display of soloing, and a chugging pulse drives the riffs onward to “In Bondage of Blind Desire.” Hellish beasts lurk within riffing structures that convey an apprehensive tone, and dynamic vocal sections compound their dire effect while thrash elements materialize and delve through a series of melodic intricacies. Other sinister vibrations continue until an end takes abrupt form with the horrors that resurface.
A thrashing power kicks off into rhythmic riffing on “Hysteria in Coma,” which then alternates with sections of flowing pace that incorporate gloomy octaves and anthemic chorus-like arrangements. This gives the title track its own distinct character, along with its peak impact of soloing that rages up from a moment of pulsing bass desolation. Tribute is paid to metal pioneers with a cover of ROOT’s “Dogra’s Empire,” and also of “The Antichrist” by SLAYER. Both tracks are true to the originals while possessing SOLFERNUS’ contemporary style and personality, and with the latter also featuring a special appearance from ROOT’s lead warlock, Big Boss. The riffs generate their own pulse on “Furious Beat of the Black Hearts,” and it elevates to a rapid ferocity with tremolo and double bass transitions. This leads to an atmospheric break with further majesty heralded through a solo, followed by a heavy groove that shifts to chugging riffage with deranged vocal expressions. This demented state is also reflected in a spoken sample initiating the final attack on “Darker than the Darkness,” and it charges on with the hostile force of its riffs, pummeling blasts, and enraged vocal layers until cavernous echoes fade after the last conclusive strikes.
Some tracks above originated from the band’s debut EP titled Diabolic Phenomenon, which sees its first official release as a bonus to this reissue, and its rawer sound differentiates these infernal hymns from their album versions along with immersive atmospheric interludes. Arpeggios and a solo shred through the harsh frenzy on “Legacy of Death” as sections of muted heaviness appear with nuanced ambient elements. An epic gloom also manifests in the hook effect created by tremolo melodies before transitioning to “Human Medium of Evil.” The intro brings out a theatrical quality, and a slow rhythmic procession takes over with bleak shifts in distortion and atmospheric notes that develop into a melodic flow. Its progression continues toward a passage of heavy chord emphasis that goes further with acoustic arpeggiations and other instrumental effects. A sinister level of grimness is projected from the vocals and dissonant riffs until fading with harmonic enhancements from the recurring slower pace. This genesis from 2003 forebodes the ruthless expanse to come on Hysteria in Coma and effectively complements its re-release.
An equally menacing tone is conveyed in the lyrical substance, beginning with a prompt blasphemous attack on “Advent Massacra.” Rampant demonic influences drive the violence against pure and holy entities, which are dominated by death and hate before further torment is inflicted on “Bros of Inferno.” It declares “The end of life – for all the same!” while “Jesus’ slaves” are judged, denied, and subjected to a shared fiery afterlife. A malevolent allure prevails through emptiness on “Victoria Karisma,” and “In Bondage of Blind Desire” warns that attempting to harness the power of these dark forces will result in being consumed by them.
A personified hysteria induces itself within the nonphysical planes and altered states of the title track, and similar events also occur while succumbing to a vicious horde that emerges on “Furious Beat of the Black Hearts.” Other depictions of death and despair ensue in the endless night of “Darker than the Darkness,” and a psychological venture into the realms beyond is detailed on “Legacy of Death.” An evil plague ravages humanity on “Human Medium of Evil,” who remains oblivious to its symptomatic hate and violence as it intensifies with the passing of time, and death seems to be only a temporary cure as it awaits rebirth. Some specific contexts and meanings within the lyrics remain obscure, but this only adds intrigue while their sinister and chaotic nature is made abundantly clear.
A momentous effort was captured on Hysteria in Coma, and this first full campaign spared no one while seizing a distinguished position for SOLFERNUS. Its grinding chaos rages through infernal melodic developments to form dynamic compositions that remain impactful many years after the original release. This reissue makes the experience readily accessible, and its harsh infliction is compounded by the union with Diabolic Phenomenon for a complete package of uncompromising grimness. It offers a great opportunity to reflect on older works whose creative vigor continues with 2017’s Neoantichrist, and until SOLFERNUS unleashes a new act of annihilation, this retrospective exploration is well worth the devotions of time and effort.