Style: Black Metal
Release Date: 14 Jul 2019
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Coffin Rags, from Lima in Peru, state on their Bandcamp page that they're "a project born under spiritual instincts of a constant search of the secrets that lie in the subconscious, the ritualistic meditation through archetypal passages and manifestations of the dead, the occult and the alchemical give form to these thoughts and designs."
I'm not entirely sure what means but a quiet four minute intro in the subtly pulsing Tangerine Dream style of the seventies might be a good way to draw us into a meditative state. However, it gives way to the louder first track proper, Espectros del Arjé, and that's only ever going to wake us back up. I find that black metal is often about tone, whether a band can find that evil sound that they can play around, and Coffin Rags have an excellent tone, if not a particularly surprising one.
They alternate between fast and slow sections across seven songs of wildly different lengths, two minute interludes to nine minute epics, with the mix putting the jagged guitars well above the drums (though the cymbals shine a lot brighter than is usual). The bass is presumably in there somewhere, but mostly as added texture, with bassist Lord Dartheniod much more obvious as the band's vocalist. His vocals don't accompany this music as much as they float through it like mist.
I like his approach though. I don't expect to catch lyrics in black metal, especially when the band are from Peru and likely to be singing in Spanish, but Lord Dartheniod often sounds like he's not using language at all, just exhaling at length in a suitably Satanic style to drape a layer of texture over the music.
With a good tone and a good vocal approach, Coffin Rags are a worthy black metal band, but the songs do run into each other. If I wasn't paying close attention, I'd have heard Espectros del Arjé and Augurios del Arúspice as a single sixteen minute track. It's the dark ambient interlude that breaks it (them) apart from Satyros Pan, a faster and delightfully evil sounding song. Coffin Rags inserted a cheesy demon speech into Espectros del Arjé but the chanting and other vocalising late in Satyros Pan is much more effective. I have to say that it's easily my favourite track on the album.
As there are really only four tracks proper here, that just leaves the most substantial, Manipulación del Espíritu, which almost reaches nine and a half minutes. It rumbles gently into play with the bass finally audible early on, then explodes into action a few minutes in. It's best in its mid tempo parts but ultimately and surprisingly is the least track on the album.
I like Coffin Rags and not only because they have such a cool name. They're pretty traditional in what they do, but I see that they're describing their sound as black/death metal, so maybe they'll be mixing it up a little for a second release.
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