ALBUM: Argentinum Astrum - Malleus Maleficarum (Vinyl LP)

ALBUM: Argentinum Astrum - Malleus Maleficarum (Vinyl LP)

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Knoxville, Tennessee, may not have the flashy musical legacy of its boot-scootin' cousin, but it does have Argentinum Astrum. Four years after its most recent demo, this Marble City metal band has finally surfaced with a new album, a three-song opus whose charred black melodies, pulverizing doom, and hellish throat-scraping invocations oscillate between nightmarish and engrossing. The first track is a pained, droning slog through enemy territory, but a newfound reliance on black-metal tropes (and a surprisingly European sensibility) serves the band well throughout the second and third legs of the journey. Malleus Maleficarum sounds as though it were recorded in a burial vault; shrapnel blasts of orthodox black-metal tremolo picking ricochet through its echo chamber and smother icy, ingenious harmonies beneath harsh distortion. It's a harrowing listen but an essential reintroduction to one of the dirty south's best-kept secrets. —Kim Kelly