According to Discogs, Osculum Infame released a first demo in 1993 and a first full-length (on tape) two years later. Several releases later the band seemed to vanish into oblivion. The band was reduced to a two-piece of guitars and drums but refused to burn out or fade away. In 2010 a compilation from previous demos was released, two years later a mini-album saw the light of day and now 'The Axis Of Blood' is available for purchase, and, well, this is one damn good black metal album.
In perfect blackened tradition, the album opens with a haunting dark ambient intro, named 'ApokalupVI'. As a dark ambient fan, I'm quite fond of stuff like this. The intro is seamlessly followed by 'Cognitive Perdition of the Insane' which immediately becomes on of my favorite tracks on the album. The down/mid tempo insanity of this track is amazing and blessed with a tremendous bleak atmosphere, complete with church bells.
On 'Kaoïst Serpentis' the blast beats appear, along with the typical screams and thrashy riffs. At this time Osculum Infame reminds me of many atmospheric black metal bands but with out the bombastic keyboard passages. This is just brilliant bleak and wicked black metal, truly honouring the twenty plus years old tradition of evil music. At a bit over four minutes the track suddenly turns into a twisted piece of feedback, noise and screams, combined with great percussion before eventually blasting out into a brutal black metal track.
The amount of variation on 'The Axis of Blood' is pretty perfect. Besides the earlier mentioned elements of ambient and noise, Osculum Infame comes up with some nice black 'n' roll passages, combining Immortal with Khold. This combination is almost a guarantee for great songs and 'My Angel' is clearly one of them. Once again it's a down/midtempo song with a neat sense of melody beyond the sheer brutality.
In ancient beliefs, 'Osculum infame' is the name of a witch’s supposed ritual greeting upon meeting with the Devil. The name means The Shameful Kiss, or The Kiss of Shame since it involved kissing the devil's anus, his 'other mouth'. This deviant behaviour, or at least the atmosphere it breathes, is also present in the music on this album. There's something unsettling about it, something cold and impending.
'Let There Be Darkness' for example, really takes me back to the glory days of the Scandinavian black metal scene of the nineties and the beginning of the new century. This blast-beats driven beast is quite stunning and perfectly capable of inducing a few whiplashes here and there. 'Inner Falling of the Glory of God' takes on the mid tempo approach again and quickly becomes another highlight on this album.
'Inner Falling of the Glory of God' and 'White Void' are a bit slower but seem to incorporate something that reminds me of harsh post-rock/metal. On 'White Void' there's even some violins audibly, creating a brilliant piece of post-metal folk or whatever you'd like to call this. If anything, it proves how versatile Osculum Infame actually is.
So in all, this really is a great album with the perfect amount of alternation between traditional, chaotic black metal and malignant black 'n' roll. If you're a fan of either of both, 'The Axis of Blood' will surely be a welcome addition to your collection. I think you will played it often and I think you'll be amazed by this intense but well-varied piece of black metal.