On first listen to the debut album from Norwegian black metal band Saligia, the release did not inspire any strong reaction either way except the question of was it liked or not. After numerous listens that indecision is still the overriding thought about Sic Transit Gloria Mundi, a release that at one turn intrigues and in the next blurs into one flowing sound. The album is not bad, far from it, the duo of Ahzari (vocals, guitar, lyricist, composer) and Malach Adonai (drums, lyrics) creating strong and uncompromising black metal, but somewhere along the line it keeps slipping from the grasp of consistently satisfying the senses even though the ear is always entertained.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi has been released as a vinyl LP by UK-based label Barghest, a label that strives to bring forth the best challenging and non-commercial black metal around based on more than simply technical skill. The release by Saligia is another success on their part even if the longevity of its appeal is most likely short in the wave of constant releases trying to grab attention. Containing impressive power and emotional intensity lyrically and by sound, the band “offers up seven burning visions of the journey towards enlightenment, the first steps on the path to find one’s True Will, and to follow that Will.” The album at the same time succeeds in branding and scaring the ears with its incessant and at times, especially in tracks like ‘Womb Caverns’ overwhelming oppressive sounds. The main problem is the strong similarity across the whole release track by track. To be fair at times the music is very mesmerising but in equal measure also comes over as one ball of sonic withering that is depleted of any defined variation or diversions to keep the listener truly engaged throughout.
The opening track ‘Casus Gloria’ is the albums best song and a great intimidating but also inviting opening to the release. With an increasing incessancy and almost hypnotic flow the mixed paced and viral like atmosphere it brings is rewarding and inviting, giving high anticipation for the rest of the album. Vocally Ahzari agreeably sings in the area between growls and clean vocals, at times almost seemingly chanting as he casts his devilish weave throughout the dark power seeping from the track. It is a great song bringing high hopes for the remaining six slices of presumed prowling darkness.
What emerges though is more of the same in structure and delivery but somehow losing the spark the first track brought, any variation minimal even after many listens. The second track ‘Sar Ha-Olam’ plays like an echo or dulled mirror image without any of the vibrant appeal of the opener. Again it must be stressed that it and all of the tracks on the release are actually strong but as a package just ‘play the same tune’ too closely for it to work as well as it deserves.
There are moments that manage to shine out before being lost again in the overall feel, such as the menacing atmosphere of ‘Womb Caverns’, the burrowing sonic fingers within ‘Orb of Flesh’ which are subsequently repeated in the following track ‘Shed Old Skin’, and the other stand out track on the release ‘Blood Staineth’. This song instilled more urgency and aggression than the others before it, bringing a revitalising energy and appeal to proceedings if only for that tracks length.
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi is a strong album in many ways and the suggestion is that all who feast on original black metal sounds especially should definitely check it out as Saligia deliver their creations with undeniable skill and passion. It is just for some ears that passion does not quite translate into something that engages deeply or simply enough to make a lasting connection.