Monday, March 5, 2012

Funeral In Heaven/Plecto Aliquem Capite - Astral Mantras Of Dyslexia

Funeral In Heaven/Plecto Aliquem Capite
Astral Mantras Of Dyslexia
Dunkelheit Produktionen

It’s taken some time to put together, but German based label Dunkelheit Produktionen has finally released the much talked about split album from Sri Lankan black metal outfits Funeral In Heaven and Plecto Aliquem Capite. With my knowledge of the Sri Lankan metal scene somewhat limited, I was curious to say the least about what these two bands have produced on ‘Astral Mantras Of Dyslexia’. Needless to say, I was expecting the unexpected, and that’s exactly what both acts delivered with their respective sides of this split album.
Opening up the album are Colombo based Funeral In Heaven, who have been active for the better part of the last decade. The seven piece outfit (Comprising of vocalist Chathuranga Fonseka, guitarists Shamika Makalanda, Joseph De Alwis and Ayesh Perera, bassist Dimuthu Fernando, drummer/violinist Visharadha Kasun Nawarathna and percussionist Dineth Wanasinghe) start off proceedings with ‘Transmigrations Into Eternal Submission (Of Altered Consciousness)’, which is essentially an eleven and a half minute traditional piece featuring plenty of percussion, violin and hypnotic grooves. Although long, the instrumental doesn’t overstay its welcome, with the slow build in tempos and intensity keeping things interesting, while the subtle electric guitar in the background does add a touch of depth to the song overall.
The follow-up track ‘Bandhana (Gatahaththey Kathaa Wasthuwa)’ is where Funeral In Heaven really gets to showcase their take on black metal. While the song does have some interesting elements (The slow dirge like delivery, the dense and suffocating sound and overall depressive atmosphere), it’s way too long at twelve minutes – especially for what is a fairly straight forward and simplistic black metal number.
Finishing up Funeral In Heaven’s set is the band’s cover of Thapas’ ‘Buddhang Saranang’, which is something quite different from the other tracks with its percussive heavy grooves, chanted choral vocals and doom-influenced guitar work. In a lot of ways, this is by far Funeral In Heaven’s strongest and most memorable offering here. The only problem is that it’s a cover.
Moving onto Plecto Aliquem Capite (Which is Latin for Suffer Capital Punishment/Death), the five piece outfit (Comprising of Forlorn Hope/Raaksha vocalist Buddhika, guitarist Joseph, bassist Chathuranga Fonseka (Who doubles as Funeral In Heaven’s vocalist), backing vocalist Sanka and drummer/programmer Kasun) begin with the traditional instrumental piece ‘Lament’, which unlike Funeral In Heaven’s offering, is a little more open in terms of instrumentation, and with a greater focus on strings that give the song a very haunting and sorrowful feel. Although it’s nothing I hadn’t already heard before, ‘Lament’ was a thoroughly enjoyable start to Plecto Aliquem Capite’s set.
As with Funeral In Heaven, it isn’t until the second track that Plecto Aliquem Capite showcase what they’re really capable of. ‘Stoned Guru Ramblings’, which was released as a single back in 2009 through Ziekte Records, comes from a completely different musical angle to that of Funeral In Heaven, with the band presenting listeners with a truly chaotic sound. Although musical doom influenced, it’s Buddhika’s unearthly screams and shrieks that really give the band their uncompromising and unique sound. Although a little hard to take initially, repeat listens do eventually reward the listener – provided of course that extreme and unhinged black metal is something you can sink your teeth into in the musical sense.
Not unlike the former track, ‘Cemetary Of The Deep’ is another disturbing piece of aggressive black metal with doom influences, but with a little more melody on the musical side of things (Especially on the latter half of the track, where the band pick up the tempo). Vocally, the song is every bit as scathing and unsettling as you would expect.
Finishing up the album is ‘Crestfallen: Immolating Shakthi’, which is a collaboration between Funeral In Heaven and Plecto Aliquem Capite. As predicted, the song itself allows both of the band’s characters to come through in equal balance, with the contrast between the vocalists and the inclusion of traditional music at the tail end the song, real stand out features.
While I thought that Funeral In Heaven’s contributions were a tad long and fairly predictable compared to Plecto Aliquem Capite’s far superior efforts, ‘Astral Mantras Of Dyslexia’ is overall a solid and enjoyable release, and a worthy showcase of what Sri Lanka has to offer in terms of black metal.

For more information on ‘Astral Mantras Of Dyslexia’, check out - http://www.dunkelheit-produktionen.de/

© Justin Donnelly