Dio Drone – 9th December 2016
OvO’s evolution over the last couple of albums has been substantial: the brutal, demonic mania of Cor Cordium was utterly terrifying in terms of just how dark and full-on it was. Not that Abisso was exactly a stroll in the park – in fact, it was truly petrifying – but some of the unbridled power of its predecessor was exchanged for a greater range, and a closer attention to nuance with the incorporation of texture and depth-bringing electronics.
Creatura marks another shift, and yet again, they’ve come up with something that sounds like it is not of this world. Pushing hard through the loud / quiet dynamic – with major emphasis on the loud, of course – the sound is has a dense, industrial quality. Combining live and programmed drums, with the bass and percussion tracks being first recorded live and then looped, sampled, overdubbed, overlayed and generally embellished, mangled and fucked with, it incorporates elements of black and industrial metal, but it’s so much more. And so much more spine-shakingly scary. This is beyond the realms of horror. It’s extreme, for sure. It’s an album that will smash your psyche.
The stop / start drums and snarling bass calls to mind early Pitch Shifter. Above all, it’s the percussion that dominates. The mechanised double-pedal bass drum sound pounds like fury while Stefano shrieks and howls through shards of feedback on opener ‘Satanam’. ‘Eternal Freak’ explodes with drums on drums, the snare sound approximating planets exploding, and guitars like jet engines roar with cranium-cracking intensity. The deep, snarling vocal on the title track is from beyond the bowels of hell and cannot possibly have emerged from the throat of anything with even a strand of human DNA. What kind of creatura is this? It’s a mutant beast from the deepest netherworld, and that’s for sure.
While the bulk of the material is driving and muscular, the sample-strewn experimental breakdown of ‘Matiarcale’ strips things back to a kind of mutant hip-hop. The fear chords which swim around the pulverizing drum track introduce another layer of disturbance.
The appropriately-titled ‘Zombie Stomp’ reveals a hitherto unseen facet of the band, manifesting as a glam rock boogie – OvO style, of course. It’s still loud, hard and heavy, but there’s even an approximation of a vocal melody, albeit one as performed by Alvin Stardust’s reanimated corpse after it’s been possessed by the spirit of Zuul.
‘Buco Nero’ continues in this vein, a post-punk track at heart, with a tune and everything, but churned to a gut-wrenching doom-filled sludge. Counerpart ‘Buco Bianco’ is a techno-disco behemoth, along the lines of Chris and Cosey collaborating with Bathory. It would be a danceable pop tune if it wasn’t so utterly fucked up. The same can’t be said of ‘Bell’s Hells’, which is a minute and a half of thunderous savagery. Closer ‘March of the Freaks’ has hints of Nine Inch Nails about it but the stuttering beats and gnarled vocals make even Broken sound like Soft Cell.
It’s the fact that Creatura so often hints at accessibility which never emerges in actuality which renders it such a fearsome and disturbing work. Whereas Cor Cordium and Abisso were truly other-wordly, Creatura inches close enough to recogniseable forms to offer a warped reimagining of the world we know and as such, is deeply uncanny, in the Freudian sense. Weird, dark and intense, it’s an album only OvO could spew out: it’s also eye-poppingly awesome.