There’s always been a special beauty for me in the way in which metal transcends national and racial identities. For example, if someone were to present me with Illvsio Machina as the work of a symphonic black metal band from Chile, I would nod sagely and accept this information, not go into depth questioning the relevance or sustainability of the black metal scene in eastern South America, nor how this is a betrayal of traditional cultural influences. However, Antartandes (an amalgam of the words “Andes” and “Antarctic,” the defining geographic edges of Chile) are indeed a Chilean band, they’ve been making their mark since 2006, and this latest EP is an absolute gem.
Musically, the orchestrations on Illvsio Machina (pre-order here) that lend the music its “symphonic” classification are entirely over the top synthesized affairs, but they suit the post-apocalyptic brashness of the overall presentation perfectly. “Explosion Implosion,” for example, features an industrial/martial ambient bridge section entirely out of keeping with black metal in general, but the end result is a delight. The instrumental version of this track is also included on the EP. Perhaps it’s the knee-jerk reaction to new directions and subsequent second-wave orthodoxy within black metal evidenced by any number of stalwarts (1349, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Tsjuder…) but hearing something so fresh and unapologetic in its appropriation of alternative sounds is always a pleasure to hear. Emerging bands like Russia’s Haze of Summer and their hipster-pop-black metal are one example of this, but on the more corpsepainted end of the spectrum Antartandes are doing a bang-up job.
The video for “Lucifer Arquetipo Acorporeo” may be more of an exercise in animated stills than actual footage, but it’s still creepy and an entirely apt visualisation:
Songs like “Agonic Phantom” and “This is the Flame” come across as over-electronic homages to the late-‘90s goth flirtations of the likes of Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir, but with an industrial flavour, a theme introduced in the introductory track, “Lucifer Arquetipo Acorporeo” and its Bladerunner re-interpretations.
While the obviously synthetic key arrangements overshadow some impressive guitar and drum work, I cannot allow this to put me off: Antartandes not only deliver a genuine surprise on Illvsio Machina, they do it in a unique satanic sci-fi style that leaves me hungry for more.
Illvsio Machina Track Listing:
01. Lucifer Arquetipo Acorporeo
02. Explosion Implosion
03. Explosion Implosion (Orquestral)
04. Agonic Phantom
05. In the Black Circle
06. This is the Flame
Run Time: 32:49
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Record Label: Australis Records