Hailing from Arona, Piedmont, Italy, Locus Animae first came about as a six-piece in 2012. Among those musicians, the only one you may be familiar with is bassist and backing vocalist Nicolò Paracchini from Agoraphobia, Astray, and I Hate When Elevator's Door Opens Up and a Raptor Appears in Front of Me. Throughout the year, the group focused on writing material, eventually heading into the studio to record the four song EP that is Ove il Mio Io Cadrà..., which was done prior to the inclusion of violinist Michela later that year. But, does this release offer a glimpse into a new black metal group worth keeping watch over, or are all the key factors to the style largely absent?

The fact that Ove il Mio Io Cadrà... isn't your traditional slab of raw, analog black metal will make a number of those tired of what has become more of a gimmick in this day and age happy at first, but it actually winds up hurting the final product to an extent. The audio quality is actually far too crisp and clear, sterilizing much of the impact greatly, especially when the band seems to try channelling a depressive output. The distortions on the guitars sound right, but are fairly weak, sometimes failing to get the point across. The bass guitar also winds up largely buried in the mix, even in the most barren of passages that allow it to stand out the most like a minute into "Come Pioggia..." and restrained segments of "Condannato a Nuova Vita". The drums, however, are as loud and sharp as the vocals are, nicely filling up the music just above the keyboards that do their job well.

Now, this isn't to say that Ove il Mio Io Cadrà... is a lifeless album. "Come Pioggia..." starts off right with soft, cleaner keyboard notes played behind hushed vocals, which is thrown back to at just past the five minute mark that, like earlier on, slowly picks up speed thanks to the warmer, beautiful sounding piano notes. Even when the raspy approach kicks back in at a much louder level, as if not lowered from the increase they received to capture those whispers, it still works with the amount of emotion that manages to slip through the largely aggressive track that utilizes the additional speed well through hooks that are a bit too clean, but still effective enough to set the proper mood atop tight drums and orchestral melodic keyboards in the vein of early Dissection albums. The choice of mixing gutturals with the aforementioned harsher style also works wonders in enriching the track, especially during the melodic sections, such as three minutes in where the slightly folk metal inspired material takes on a truly nightmarish mood for a brief amount of time. This is also one of the more well paced tracks, taking full advantage of the over seven minute length to not only build up aural landscapes to surprising levels, but also weave a good deal of tension when necessary.

Leading up to that track, however, is a bit of a task. "Uomo Primo" tries desperately to present some kind of emotion, and it does when the tempo picks up a bit. There is an obvious hiccup though, as around two minutes and thirteen seconds, in the layered vocals are off just enough to make it pretty obvious. In fact, it sounds like there was some studio editing done, but it's just the way the late "f" is accentuated compared to the deeper background growls. It also should have ended by the five minute mark, as the distorted spoken word section with a tribal beat that follows not only sounds oddly cinematic, but simply comes off like padding to reach the slightly over six-and-a-half minute length. Of course, this is still better than the mild "Condannato a Nuova Vita". The slight echo on the drums during the slower part is one of the few things that stand out about this composition of slower chords, dull distortions, and terribly off-key clean singing that vocalist Gregory "Mortiferum" Sobrio himself seems bored by.

There's also "Locus Animae", which is a far more dynamic piece all around. While it doesn't really try to assert much of the depressive black metal trait the band seems to dabble in here and there, the keyboards really help establish a viking metal atmosphere on par with the likes of Borknagar. Again, a rawer touch would help, perhaps even take this one into more of a pagan black metal approach, but the folk inspired glorious overtones are simply too good to leave you caring what genre the band is trying to achieve. The extensive introduction takes its time to build into the moving memorial piece with random bursts of black metal that mix together the aforementioned rasps and gutturals perfectly, and the guitar solo by five minutes in really cements that atmosphere further. Unlike "Condannato a Nuova Vita", the clean singing is far more on key, making those few segments much easier to sit through, as well as making the transition into waves coming ashore as a conclusion a much smoother one.

Locus Animae's debut outing isn't the strongest, but it definitely shows where the group's strengths and weaknesses lie. When they channel more of a folk element in their music, this six-piece unleashes memorable performances ripe with energy. However, when trying to stick to straight forward black metal, or even delve into depressive tendencies, it often sounds bland and uninspiring. The last two tracks on Ove il Mio Io Cadrà... are prime examples of Italian roots coming into play with the power of this genre as a whole that even the overly crisp audio quality isn't able to completely destroy. With the right amount of analog tinkering present, and a stronger focus on composing more songs like the final two, there's no denying Locus Animae will end up something spectacular. But, until then, we have Ove il Mio Io Cadrà..., which is still worth checking out, especially since you can grab it digitally as a "name your price" download through the group's official Bandcamp.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.