Caligari Records is really carving out a nice little niche for itself in the analog world of metal on cassettes. Between the doom thrash of Obscure Evil and the blackened doom of Mindkult (notice a trend here?) Nine Circles has been in the bag for the type of music Caligari puts out for some time now. Judging by their credo that “Only True Music Is Real” and Bestiale Battito Divino, the new mini-album by Italian blackened punk band Cioran it looks like the trend of quality underground metal is going to continue.
Based in Padua, Italy, there’s not much to go on as far as history. A demo from 2012 shows Cioran playing a mix of post-metal and hardcore that’s surprisingly catchy. Songs like “Cool Air (Keeps the Dead Alive)” and “No Glory for the Damned” bring the heavy in spades with a sense of humor. Their self-titled debut came out in 2014, and there’s a leap in maturity and growth in the style of music. Black metal begins to creep into the mix, but in songs like “Alessandro Moreschi” there’s still a significant hardcore presence, with breakdowns and spoken word interludes adding a dramatic weight to the tune. It’s an interesting mix done well, and had Cioran continued in this vein they still would be worth seeking out (both the demo and debut are free downloads on Bandcamp), but the intervening two and a half years between the debut and Bestiale Battito Divino sees a more brutal and stripped down approach to the music.
Roughly translated to “Bestial Divine Heartbeat” Bestiale Battito Divino is positioned by the band as a concept album, describing in their words “The coexistence of submission to animal instinct and the seek of something higher than mere reality.” Being limited in my Italian to “Wait, how much does it cost?” and “Eh, what a life!” (these are the most common phrases uttered by my mother-in-law, bless her heart) I can’t verify how closely the lyrical content matches the concept, but from a musical perspective things jump right into a swirling vortex of black metal with “Sogno Organico” alternating between vicious blast beasts and slower, atonal riffs that set a sense of dread over the album. The vocals are a huge left turn from the previous albums, and as things take a punk turn in the second half before diving back into the depths of the slow and heavy you can sense a different beast entirely pulsing underneath the notes. The abrupt starts and stops in style continue throughout the 25 minute run time, with particular highlights being “Silico” with its great middle section that slices the brutality in half and “Latrato” sporting a classic mid-paced stomp that morphs into shuddering blasts.
I’m still shaking my head over the turn Cioran takes with Bestiale Battito Divino, but it’s a head shake with a grin. Cioran incorporates the best of the genres it borrows from and lays waste with a blistering analog assault that sits as one of the best examples of the type of music Caligari Records is working to bring out of the darkness and into the light. It’s a compact burst of rage and menace that never lets up on the anger, and it works with a precision that recalls its hardcore roots.