The self-titled debut album from Milan's MASCHARAT has a somewhat bizarre concept. According to the band, their name means "joke, prank, trick" and "immoral and chaotic situation". They're also inspired by "mask and traditions of carnival"....A somewhat odd concept for a black metal band. However, the diversity of the ideas behind the band don't hinder the focus of the album.
Pianos open up the intro with mild atmospheric auras in the background. The black metal kicks in on 'Bauta' with steady drums, swirling guitars and raspy, screeching vocals. And as with any well-written song, the rhythm and melody changes throughout. 'Medecin de Peste' almost sounds like post-prison Burzum in its guitars at the beginning before opening up in a wider, open space. Whispering vocals and acoustic guitar interrupt the flow, albeit briefly, until the velocity jumps back in, but in a completely different direction than the first couple of minutes. 'Mora' is a furious delivery of epic proportions after a somber first minute or so. The brief 'Vestibolo' could easily have been played in a tavern as twilight falls upon the enchanted kingdom. But then 'Simulacri' rampages through, destroying any beauty remaining amongst the chaos. It's rewarding to listen to a black metal album that isn't rewriting the same early Darkthrone songs over and over. No two songs sound the same, and in this case, it's a good thing. 'Iniziazione', if you ignore the spoken word at the start of the song, is a swelling, encapsulating track with outstanding vocals that would make Finland proud. 'Rito' brings back the familiar early days of black metal while staggering and stumbling through layer upon layer of ever-changing rhythms. The outro ends the album with the return of pianos and haunting keyboards.
MASCHARAT, with only one album, have already accomplished more than an abundance of bands accomplish in five albums. Creating a sweltering array of tunes while also being consistent in the overall sound is impressive. Here's hoping MASCHARAT continue for years to come.