Analysis | HETROERTZEN Transcends the Flesh on Phosphorus Vol I

            This shadowy coven of Chilean origins has brought forth a new sacrificial offering, and with it comes the inner serpent’s ascension toward higher planes of realization. HETROERTZEN are known for embracing deathly auras, along with vampirism and other black mystical forms, and their grim collective now advances through a seventh full conjuration titled Phosphorus Vol I. Its compositions abound with the substance of a fathomless astral void, where HETROERTZEN’s artistic and spiritual evolution becomes notably manifest, and greater illuminative ambitions are pursued as they take flight among the dreadful tides. A cold and concentrated darkness emanates from this first Phosphoric incarnation, which seeks to have innocence engulfed by its piercing wrath, and a rapturous transformation is prompted while crossing the mysterious dimensions within.

            Scything and ghostly choral effects introduce a foreboding atmosphere on “The Arrival,” and it transcends the veil toward an otherworldly realm on “Sea in Black,” where the spirit of death permeates a chilling arcane blackness driven by blasts and tremolo forces. A sense of dread is amplified when those currents shift alongside a quickened pulse, and they continue unfolding across multiple rhythmic transitions, which offer glimpses of the ritualistic and grooved parallels to fury executed throughout. Double bass varieties become a prominent enhancer for the trills and disturbed riff trance on “The Hall of Wonders,” along with brooding areas that rise among its progressions, and a blasting resurgence marks the peak as subtle ambient emanations are observed among lead tremolos. This dire conjuring is further heightened through invocations from expressive vocal layers, and their dominant rasps maintain the likeness of a deranged priest, but with a distinct element in the delivery that also renders many lyrics comprehensible. The lyrical quality of a work often determines whether or not this trait is desirable, and here it proves to be another dynamic that enriches the listening experience.

            Melodic influences are legion among the compositions, and “Absorption of the Current I,” seizes their spellbinding potency after moving past ominous industrial thresholds. String tones and manipulations also produce an array of torments, including accented glares that strike from within the blast-beaten advance, and melancholy is captured in some unique distortions before intensity swells on the second part of this rite. Insanity is elevated by the notes coursing alongside its disharmonic throbbing mass, and a notable mark is imposed when clean-stringed haunts combine with the menace of heavier layers. These riffing elements convey a comparatively upbeat pace on “Vultus Satani,” and its punk traces surge into chaos through other transitional points that reach malign depths. This aura infects the entire work, and its consuming presence only becomes more apparent as frenzy gives way to a malevolent groove on “Et In Arcadia Ego.” Distant cavernous howls augment the horror of its arpeggiated and tremolo formulas, which illustrate an unbounded hostility possessed across the hymns, and “I am Sickness, I am Death” amplifies malignance with an intervallic descent into the pits of a dissonant plague. Light is an utterly lost cause upon the arrival of “Pantocrator,” where desolation and wrath conspire along with a dose of intoxicated soloing, and ritualistic drums return to carry the effect toward “The Conjuring of the Seven Spirits.” The shadowy gathering in this CD bonus capitalizes on the overall impact with an embrace of oblivion that brings the journey to its true completion.

            The name of this work comes from “The Vampiric-eucharistic ritual of the Ecclesia Gnosticae,” as explained in a statement accompanying the texts, and it also points to keys within each track that unveil paths toward the attainment of “Salvation through wisdom.” As noted above, many of the lyrics are presented overtly through the vocal delivery, and a deeper study of their contents reveals the same infinite blackness encountered musically, with a constant flow of scenes and symbolic imagery making them a challenge to decipher. This substance aptly reflects the chaotic potential of astral realms, and “Walking downstairs through frozen tunnels” or “The underground caves of secrets” on “Sea in Black” are instances seeming to describe an exploration of their mysteries. They often coincide with altered perceptual states, which are depicted here while “Crossing the boundaries of sanity and perversion,” and “The sign of the cross” is also a marked feature introduced by the first of several distorted visions through mirrors.

            Signs from the “Elliptic mirror” continue on “Absorption of the Current I,” and “Perversion” returns as “The way of resurrection” while rituals commence. Allusions to the single-pointed consciousness are notable, and one appears when this track describes a “Priest and Egregore at the top of the triangle” and “In front of the serpent’s eye.” The serpent is another element taking several forms, with the Melusine, a folkloric entity described aptly as “Half woman, half snake” on “Et In Arcadia Ego,” emerging at multiple points, and “Pantocrator” later references the Egyptian deity of chaos, Apep, who also had a serpentine likeness. This variety captures its universal symbolism, along with an intrigue extending to the pantheon of other mythological and spiritual encounters, as the flow of imagery unfolds. A vampiric presence also rises, and being “Drunk of the blood of the Magdalene” on “Pantocrator” joins it with a sacrilegious conviction. This transpires “Beneath the three wooden crosses upon the pyre,” and the significance of pyres and crosses represents another main theme, which recent interviews have revealed involves overcoming initiatory hardships and freeing the spirit from physical bounds.

            The path toward that liberation is tortuous, and dark lyricism shifts ably to reflect the course, including an anguish augmented by multiple Latin phrases. A pessimistic apparency is noted in the title of “Et In Arcadia Ego,” with its mysterious translation often meaning “Even in paradise, death is inevitable,” and English takes over to describe one “Cursed…To remain in silent despair” on “I am Sickness, I am Death.” The melancholy is countered by many persevering qualities, and “Our restless will shall not perish” is declared here while grimness aligns with a phoenix-like rising “From a pile of plague corpses” on “Sea in Black.” Another reassurance is offered on “Pantocrator,” along with its Latin “Angelus Invictus” alluding to invincibility, and this is where a revelatory complement to the search for wisdom also appears. “Once you see what you cannot see, the human soul is gone, for God is what’s forbidden” recalls theories that absolutes are glimpsed at the point of death, and this is the destination reached as “The Conjuring of the Seven Spirits” proceeds “Into forgotten ruins.” Much more could be written on the depth of this material, which ultimately surpasses my own insights. However, its spirit of achievement through perseverance over adversity still inspires and could easily be related to areas beyond the occult.

            An enlightening era is heralded by the songcraft and substance of Phosphorus Vol I, which undoubtedly seizes grand levels of attainment within HETROERTZEN’s creative universe. Its dark malignant textures seethe from an abyss in ways reflecting the boundless expanse, and while many of these energies are familiar among black metal circles, they still manage to alchemize in seemingly endless combinations that remain favorable and engaging. Their impenetrable shades proliferate across the hymns through harmoniously dissonant formulas, and ignorance is ultimately decimated by the adeptness of HETROERTZEN’s execution. A thirst for the second volume of this manifestation is now firmly instilled, but until that time arrives, Phosphorus Vol I will offer persistent elations for those partaking its communion.

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