Altar of Perversion return with Intra Naos, a post-black metal album taking this limited and confused style to its best, though still inefficient, results. We start by stating that this is not a black metal album because it is not a metal album in the first place, although its instrumentation, general use of imagery and screetched vocals may give us cause to think it is. Rather than being based on actual riffs to form phrases which themselves give rise to a sequence of flows , Intra Naos displays the shortcomings of what we have in the past characterized wallpaper black metal . The overall experience of the album is one of somnolescence brought about by the lack of musical content in an extremely long recording full of ‘sounds’.
In the particular case of Altar of Perversion’s new album, the wallpaper reference means that sections are based on the rock technique of chord outlining, being dragged out through time by repeating small bits of chord-tones across the frequency spectrum. Most melodies in the present album are little more than three-note patterns repeated ad nauseam, and so simply constitute another layer in a sonic wallpaper tower. Stylistically, when creating the longer melodies that become the salient points in an ocean of sameness, we see sometimes the band flirt with a kind of Mortuary Drape influenced Scooby-Doo chase music. Fortunately, this is kept at a minimum, sublimated under the purposes and overall schemes of Altar of Perversion.
That the album is painstakingly crafted is not denied, but effort does not necessarily pay off on its own, and four layers of stringed instruments (being three guitars and a bass often heard going on its own to produce contrast for distraction) arranged does not guarantee an efficient result. In fact, because the parts are seemingly made to fill up space in the frequency spectrum, they are often chord-noise, so to call it, while very basic, short themes are used to create the only coherent link throughout the pieces. Unfortunately, the full power of motifs for creation through variation and creation of strong themes is not explored by virtue of following the post-metal chord-mist approach instead of the metal riff-phrase one.
At its best, Intra Naos does show a strong perception and will towards creation of flows in and between different sections, and this is something that the listener can clearly feel. The problem is that the production of the necessary fluxions in each section is arrested by the drawn-out, diffused technique of wallpaper post-metal. It is incumbent here to repeat that the strong phrasal-riff of underground metal has proven to be not only the core of the intended genre and its power, but the most efficiacious way for it to transmit and communicate.
The album has a great production-sound, and the instruments all come through clearly and have an amazingly pleasant sound. Presumably, a lot of this has to do with the tuning being purposefully chosen for the instruments . In the album’s favor, and despite our disagreement with post-black metal methods as a method towards depth, the layering of parts and the attention to bringing back motifs in different layers is actually done with due attention to craft. The musicians are obviously profficient in instrumental performance and appear to be, moreover, involved esotericists.
The latter brings us to the hidden and true highlight of this release: the lyrics. In these, a whole cosmogony is explored spanning different ancient mythologies and funneling into a newer and darker labyrinth. Unlike other modern esoteric formulations, this appears to be an evolution of older traditions, as if it were living. Although wordy and making dense references that require the reader to both research and decipher, the resulting outlook appears focused and trasnformation oriented: Nietzschean in action and timeless in contrast to the flabby, empty and vain occultism or theism of most black metal bands (or so-called ‘entities’, as they like to call their musical projects).
Alongside with the visual stimulation of its enigmatic front cover image, the lyrics of Intra Naos could be read while keeping the music on as soundtrack. The whole experience brings the lyrics to the forefront, and reveals them as the central actor. At the same time, the music fulfills a role for which it is actually apt: as background modifier for moods and ideas more efficiently transmitted through words. If impaired as a pure and evocative listening experience, the present album may work in a compound listening experiment that helps the listener direct attention and organize content .
In the final analysis, Altar of Perversion Intra Naos is highly inneficient music that is better suited as a platform for the lyrics. The root of this dilema might lie in that this project might have been brought about with the intention of channeling the ideas in a cosmology, first and foremost, with the actual craft of music being subservient to the conceptual abstraction. But art is seldom a good mistress: she asks for total devotion, and through that devotion it is she that channels the artist’s dark, unconscious essence.
 See the article Black Fluxions: https://www.deathmetal.org/article/black-fluxions/
 See the article A case study in wallpaper black metal and a discussion of its apologetics: https://www.deathmetal.org/article/wallpaper-black-metal-apologetics/
 See Bardo Methodology’s interview with Altar of Perversion: http://www.bardomethodology.com/articles/2018/03/20/altar-of-perversion-interview/
 See the article Exploring Metal Music Through Active Imagination Techniques: https://www.deathmetal.org/article/exploring-music-through-active-imagination-techniques/