Formed in 2014, Denigrata (who hail from the Midlands, UK) are an avant-garde black metal collective, focused on pushing the extreme metal genre with what they call ‘noire concrête’. Self-released début album Missa Defunctoram is based on Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor and is sung in Latin, consequently it’s no surprise all members came together through higher education music degrees. Mozart’s requiem was composed as he was dying, instilling a suitable motif of morbidity to their unique twist on black metal.
There is such an amalgamation of components that form their overall sound; as such it’s quite a difficult album to take in. There are transcendental and industrial sections, along with sweeping guitar melodies, pneumatic drill kick drums and a combination of screamed and operatic vocals. Switching up between fast, ferocious onslaughts and icy, macabre atmospheres, it’s unpredictable and at times a total head fuck. Call me old-fashioned but much of it represents unintelligible, chaotic noise.
The more stripped back sections however show greater promise; ‘Kyrie Eleison’ features a down tempo guitar melody, with a haunting piano in the background and sorrowful screamed vocals layered with the operatic style, which is beautiful. Where the album digresses for me is the forcing together of so many different elements, ‘Confutatis Maledictis’ and ‘Requiem Aeternam’ in particular are directionless and confusing. The operatic vocals work in parts and not in others, but seem to get in thrown in anywhere regardless. The more transcendental atmospheric sections on the other hand are cohesive and resonate far better. ‘Rex Tremendae’ begins with a stunning haunting and almost ritualistic ambience, and a prime example of how the operatic vocals can be so effective when placed correctly.
Their commitment to creating something distinctive is commendable, however it comes across too convoluted and the more simplistic aspects that work a lot better are engulfed by the surrounding chaos. Whilst the meeting of musically academic minds may seem like such an advantage, it often over complicates ideas, which is unfortunately reflected in Missa Defunctoram.