Most people generally don’t think of spirituality when it comes to heavy metal, and that’s with good reason. Just about all Christian bands are not very good at all (Stryper is the lone great one, and don’t you fucking argue with me), and much of the orthodox metal for the dark side often is well shrouded and wouldn’t seem very explicit to someone not in the know.
But you have your exceptions, such as with Canadian black metal destroyers A.M.S.G., who have returned with their punishing second record “Hostis Universi Generis,” about to land like a fireball from Profound Lore Records (they also brought you their 2013 full-length debut “Anti-Cosmic Tyranny”). This band and this album immerse themselves in absolute darkness and worship of death, and they do so in a bizarre and twisted way that could chill your cells. The band’s name stands for Ad Majorem Satanae Gloriam (For the Greater Glory of Satan), so they’re not just putting up scary imagery and selling you records based on a marketing scheme. It does go beyond this, as the band seeks to achieve higher levels of consciousness and revels in cosmic power, but it all blends together very well. This band lives this way, and the more you read about the groups and scan interviews with leader Angelfukk Witchhammer, they don’t sound like people you necessarily want to hang out with. And I’m pretty sure they’d have it no other way.
As for the forces behind A.M.S.G.’s music, we’ve already mentioned Witchhammer, also known under his given name Ryan Page, the driving force behind this band and also a member of Gloria Diaboli and formerly with Ouroboros. Along with him are guitarist F. Andramelech and drummer Bzath (also a member of Insidious Omen), and their work on “Hostis Universi Generis” is bone-crunching and utterly terrifying. You go through a tunnel of hellishness that will make you feel dizzy, disoriented, and possibly accessing portals in your mind you weren’t aware of before. If you’re just here to absorb the music and not the spiritual elements, you’ll still have your flesh and organs grinded by the sheer power of it all and likely will be horrified like never before.
“The Exodus of All Life” is the bruising 9:33 opener that starts with whispers swirling amid clean guitars before the tempo pounces. Melodies dizzy as infernal growls tear away, while later, bizarre passages smear soot, and gurgly voices bubble to the surface. Fluid, classic metal guitar leads are launched, with pace twisting and warping, and the song ending in chaos. “Baptized in the Blood of Galaxies” has a Middle Eastern-style vibe at the start, giving off an entrancing feel, but then the song detonates. Speed arrives and maims, but then you’re jerked back into a slower tempo that remains ungodly heavy. Doom bells strike, as the ambiance turns liturgical, and a cascade of death emerges, dropping bloody hammers and alien-like growls. Cosmic saxophones settle in and create stardust before the song re-ignites and blasts toward its end. “Broken Chains of Cursed Flesh” opens in serenity, with acoustic guitars breathing fresh air. Then the monstrous fire erupts, with whispery passages haunting, a storm of sound creating a buzzing effect, and detached speaking causing your head to spin. The back end is a little proggy in spots, with the howl of, “To become one with death!” striking your soul.
The strange “Divine.Madness.Transcends” follows, feeling like something out of the strangest fever dream you’ve ever had. The soundscape stretches through most of the song, with a brief break toward the end for madness, but the bulk finds Witchhammer warbling and chanting. As per the label, the song itself is inspired by occult teachings, as well as visions the band members have had during meditation rituals, enhanced by the use of hallucinogens. So you’re going to hear some weird shit here that might freak you out, but the content is based strictly in the occult. It’s sure to leave you utterly disoriented. “The Perpetual Dance of Existence and Demise” sprawls over 11 crushing minutes, and when it opens, noise envelops, voices creak, and some damn stellar guitar work lashes out, again making me think back to the glory days of the genre. The growls are grim and clash with spiraling guitars, and space sounds mar the senses while the tempo chugs. Strange moans sicken, while the playing turns humid, winds woosh through, and the song ends in charred melodies. Closer “Astral Projections of Lucifer” sits in a bed of sound, with clean, spacious guitars flooding, keys hypnotizing, and sax crashing through the boundaries. A long stretch of the song is stimulating and really feels like it’s pulling you to another plane, with the pace exploding again later on, deranged wails clawing at your skin, and savage scraping disappearing into an acoustic storm. You’ll probably need a few deep breaths and a wall to keep you steady when this is over.
This is hellish art, music that is about something and for something and in adulation of forces the band members deem far greater than they are. For those who think Satanic heavy metal is all about covers with pentagrams and upside crosses, you have no ideas the danger you’re about to encounter. “Hostis Universi Generis” is one of the most mangling and bizarre metal albums of the year, with A.M.S.G. out front battling to crush the hearts of all humanity.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/AMSG-Ad-Majorem-Satanae-Gloriam-110719362296013/
To buy the album, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/products-page/
For more on the label, go here: https://www.profoundlorerecords.com/