Album Review – Aegri Somnia / Ad Augusta per Angusta (2017)

A compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, where Spanish oral traditional music is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Whenever metal gets blended with any other type of music in the world, in special with more traditional styles and genres, the result is always beyond interesting, transpiring creativity, passion, feeling and entertaining us all in a different way than our usual metal bands. That encounter of the fury and darkness of heavy music with distinct non-metal sounds is exactly what you’ll experience in Ad Augusta per Angusta, the debut full-length album by Madrid-based Black/Avantgarde Metal project Aegri Somnia, where Spanish oral traditional music, unknown even for most of Spanish people, is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Aegri Somnia are Cristina R. Galván (also known as Lady Carrot), from the Castilian folk music world, and multi-instrumentalist Nightmarer, from the Avantgarde Metal scene (As Light Dies, Garth Arum), who decided to form the project in 2012 in an old ghostly house located in a northern Spanish valley, surrounded by loneliness, silence and the smell of wet earth. And it didn’t take long for the duo to give life to Ad Augusta per Angusta from the harmonious union of their skills and backgrounds, offering the listener a compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, a travel through the rural and magical Spain with its lights and shadows, and a gaze into the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Featuring a stylish artwork designed by Cristina and Nightmarer themselves, Ad Augusta per Angusta will certainly redefine the way you see folk and metal music.

Serene acoustic guitars and the delicate voice by Cristina kick off the folk composition Seran, full of traditional Iberian elements and showcasing a steady, melancholic atmosphere. Furthermore, all additional instruments played by both Cristina and Nightmarer are necessary to the music, never sounding out of place. Aegri Somina offer heavier guitars and a rousing vibe in the excellent and classy chant Señor Platero, presenting a great performance once again by Cristina on vocals while Nightmarer brings the word “metal” to the musicality in a perfect balance between extreme music and Iberian folk; followed by La Culebra, a song that’s at the same time tailored for a dancing performance and for a metal concert. Not only Cristina changes her tone a bit in this song, sounding more aggressive than before, but also the song’s symphonic elements enhance its darkness, cohesiveness and taste.

La Deshonra, the longest of all tracks, transpires melancholy through the beautiful acoustic guitars by Nightmarer and the passionate vocals by Cristina, and despite the music not having any breaks or variations, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. In fact, its constant rhythm is what makes it mesmerizing. In Molinero – Vengo De Moler, the fusion of metallic guitars and the classic sound of unique instruments like spoons, clamps and stomps, among others, creates a fantastic ambience for Cristina to declaim the song’s lyrics, filling all spaces in this exotic and fun composition, whereas in La Niña De La Arena, one of the best tracks of the album, the duo speeds up the pace and delivers sharp guitar lines, both electric and acoustic. This is indeed an intricate chant displaying several different instruments and layers, with nuances of modern folk music to spice it up a bit. And exhibiting a softer side, Cristina and Nightmarer focus on the more gentle sounds of their instruments in Romance De Santa Elena, generating a calm atmosphere where Cristina beautifully tells the story through the song’s poetic lyrics.

Ronda De Mayo brings Iberian folk with hints of modern Hard Rock, Folk and Progressive Metal, feeling like part of the soundtrack for a dark movie, with its percussion and synths working really well, keeping the music flowing smoothly. Then we have Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte, another dancing tune full of clapping and acoustic lines keeping up with the Spanish traditions, with Cristina going back to her sharper vocal lines while Nightmarer does an amazing job with his unstoppable guitar, and Charro Del Labrador, where Cristina continues to showcase her tender vocal lines, with the musicality in this case being denser than usual thanks to the heavier beats and louder folk instruments. I personally think this experimental composition should sound very interesting if they record a full metal version of it. And Veneno, the last composition in Ad Augusta per Angusta, offers the listener atmospheric passages and a high dosage of melancholy, and albeit not being a bad composition, it’s in my opinion slightly below the rest of the album in terms of creativity.

It’s extremely easy to know more about Aegri Somnia and their music. For instance, you can listen to the full album on YouTube, where you can also watch an amazing video by Cristina herself speaking about the traditional percussion instruments used in Ad Augusta per Angusta and other details about the Iberian oral tradition (with subtitles in English available). You can also follow the duo on Facebook, and purchase Ad Augusta per Angusta at their BandCamp page, at the Symbol Of Domination’s BandCamp page, at the Satanath Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And if exploring new music is part of your life, then you’re more than welcome to join Cristina and Nightmarer in their voyage through the darkness and light of the rural Spain.

Best moments of the album: Señor Platero, Molinero – Vengo De Moler and La Niña De La Arena.

Worst moments of the album: Veneno.

Released in 2017 Symbol Of Domination/United By Chaos

Track listing
1. Seran 4:08
2. Señor Platero 4:51
3. La Culebra 3:13
4. La Deshonra 6:06
5. Molinero – Vengo De Moler 5:05
6. La Niña De La Arena 2:40
7. Romance De Santa Elena 4:28
8. Ronda De Mayo 4:17
9. Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte 3:40
10. Charro Del Labrador 5:41
11. Veneno 4:51

Band members
Cristina R. Galvan (Lady Carrot) – female vocal, galician and castilian tambourine, pandero cuadrado, palo de agua, spoons, almirez, shells and claps
Nightmarer – male vocal, electric & acoustic guitar, fretless bass, keyboards/synths, programming, violin, accordion, wind chimes, claps and stomps

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