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Codex Perfida (2014)

Codex Perfida is the debut four-song demo cassette by Irish metalheads Vircolac, who formed just a year previous in 2013. The demo opens with the atmospheric introduction title track, and already I’m frothing with anticipation and then blitzed by ‘Confessio’. I’m thrilled by the tightness and maturity of this young bunch of upstarts.

I was hit in the face by their spiked mace of sound. This is, to put it as simply as possible, wretched death metal spewed out by a bunch of musicians who clearly have worked their way through the Irish metal scene and now reached a point where they can batter the audiences with their own sound of extremity.

‘Confessio’ begins like a juggernaut; it’s a truly ashen machine of doom-laden savagery that clanks, hammers and spills all manner of ungodly goods from its orifices. The apocalyptic thrash assault supplied by this quartet is one that will come as a surprise, such is its rasping menace. With flashes of originality, I’m finding it nigh on impossible to remove from the ears. ‘Confessio’ has a strong foundation constructed of dry, rasping vocals and some truly thunderous percussion formed in to the pits of Hell that smoulder beneath the city of Dublin.

Then we come to that brooding bass which festers alongside what I can only describe as some ghoulishly sepulchral riffs and guitar tone which will drag you down into the cavernous blackness. In fact, the last time I heard something so sinister and clammy was via Grave Miasma, but Vircolac is very much a different beast; a fiendish cacophony which hones in on an emotional tread and guttural eeriness.

For me, ‘Confessio’ has to be one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had since I was molested in my bed one night by a hungry succubus! Effortlessly combining rusty black metal with a spiky death metal suspense, the track weaves its course like some elusive manifestation once war-torn and yet now back, seeking revenge on those who wronged it. It’s a track of deep churning old school death metal and ashen ingredients, resulting in a grating guitar rumble and the sort of percussion that brings ash down from the heavens. The truly staggering aspect of this track is the way it evolves, eventually forming into some sinister ache of grim echoes and pulverising bleakness.

I’m almost relieved as the eerie tinkles pass off into the distance as I no longer wish to dwell in such a mire of horror, and yet I know that just around the corner lurks the formidable ‘The Worm Turns’. Again, it’s a case of further torture as the combo injects just a sprig of miserable melody into that grinding assault, but once the vocal sneers rake the face it’s a case of heads down and praying for the light, only to then be hit by the gruelling trundle of ‘Effigy’.

If you manage to survive that final blistering onslaught of pasty haste, then just remember that at some point a debut album will follow and you’ll be quaking in your boots again.

Vircolac has released a grating slab of blackened death metal that leaves me gagging for more.

The Codex Perfida demo cassette is available here.

Neil Arnold

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