If you don’t split Ævangelist into two separate iterations/incarnations, then ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’ is the band’s tenth album, conversely, if you agree that starting from 2018 Matron Thorn’s brainchild is a completely different than before, then this is only the fourth album. The choice is yours. It should also be noted that the press release line “the album was recorded live in the studio” does not mean that ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’ was recorded during the concert, no, exactly in the studio, the musicians just played all together during the recording session, not each separately one after another as is usually the case when recording an album. And as for the fact that the album’s only song (31:31) is actually a medley of old songs, well, let’s pretend we have no idea about this and listen to ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’ as an independent composition/album.
However, no matter the approach, basically we are dealing with the mid paced Black/Death Metal material, gloomy, baleful and groovy, you know, something in the spirit of Beherit, just in a modern way. Sometimes Ævangelist burst into a Grindcore rampage, but these Blackened Grindcore sections are not that long, and there aren’t too many of them: only four Blasphemy-like accelerations on the whole album, while the last two are very close to each other in the albums’ final, which is marked, by the way, by real chaos and mess.
Solos are even rarer: you can catch a muffled chaotic lick in the background at the beginning, sometimes it is even layered over the top of the vocal part (the vocals are very evil, but, perhaps, more suitable for Death Metal), thereby increasing the madness of the album. The second lick/solo creeps out only at the beginning of the second third, but this time it can’t be made out so easily. For fairness’ sake, maybe there is some another solo somewhere too, but it is lost in the effects. That’s all.
It is reasonable that the complexity of Ævangelist’s music structure is out of the question: the same riffs are repeated again and again, while the songs/parts are built mainly on a couple of riffs (well, it’s impossible not to pay attention to the medley factor, because the pieces are glued to each other too crudely). So the psychological impact of this stuff is based on the monotonous repetition, long monotonous repetition: ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’ is a veeery atmospheric work. Although the recording is not very clean, and the production is a bit raw and muddy, it only works for the atmosphere.
But, of course, there would be no impact without the riffs: it must be admitted that Matron Thorn is a master at composing primitive minimalistic riffs, very aggressive and almost devoid of tunefulness, his riffs are of the highest malicious order. No wonder he has bred so many albums with that ability. Interestingly, it looks like he doesn’t like tremolo picking – we hear one single tremolo-picked riff only towards the end.
As for the Experimental component in Black/Death Metal from Ævangelist, the electronic effects generated by Matron Thorn are responsible for it. These are synth sounds and samples with some rapping, they make themselves felt not only in the pauses between songs/parts: the synth howling and humming sound are an ominous background throughout almost the entire half-hour composition. Sometimes their level is too high, so they even drown out the guitar line.
In addition, sometimes there is a feeling that the keyboards and the guitar have little to do with each other, each of them could perform its own independent part with the same result. And there are other methods of experimentalism on ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’, for example, some weird rhythmic figure is beaten on a cymbal in one song/part – this sound seems to be deliberately made extremely annoying and intrusive. All this has only one meaning: to create really hellish humming. Yes, all these effects act like Dark Ambient music or even Noise/Power Electronics.
Summary. ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’ is very effective and atmospheric, but it’s very difficult to find something interesting in such music. If you prefer skillful guitar playing or an unusual song structure, then ‘Simulacra Retrospectræ’ is definitely not for you. But if you like the atmosphere of immersion in the well of the psychopath’s subconscious, then welcome.