2019 is already shaping up to be an incredibly strong year for post-rock and metal, with a massive slate of heavy hitters releasing new material in the opening weeks. For my money though the most exciting of these releases may be the new album from Brazil’s Labirinto. I became aware of the group after Pelagic Records signed them and promptly reissued their previous album, the stellar Gehenna, which instantly became one of my favorite records of 2017. Their sheer mastery of cinematic heaviness with gut-wrenching emotion weaved throughout instantly placed them in the highest echelons of this kind of music, and ever since I’ve been eagerly awaiting their next move.
Fortunately we don’t need to wait long as their new album, Divino Afflante Spiritu, is set to come out February 8. The band have already whet our appetites with the record’s epic closing title track, but now we get the other bookend in the opener, “Agnus Dei.” Simply put, it’s incredible.
Of the track, the band have this to say:
Agnus Dei (latin for “Lamb of God”) exposes the relationship between sacred and profane which permeates the formation of western thought, and our social and cultural organization, through one of the main elements of Christianity: the body of Christ. Through this relationship and the materialization of the intangible, society searches for excuses for its flaws and evils, using it as another means of domination and coercion. The track that opens the album is full of nuances, synth lines and heavy and intense bass/guitar riffs, marking the debut of the first ever song with vocals in Labirinto’s history. We invited singer Elaine Campos because we share her feminist political activism and we’ve long admired her vocal work in other underground Brazilian bands. Agnus Dei is one of the songs that best summarizes the concept and aesthetics of the new record.”
Let’s start with those aforementioned vocals, because I was knocked straight back in my seat when I first heard the song. I don’t think it’s true that vocals always improve post-metal, but this is absolutely a case where they take an already great track and elevate it further. Set against the extended intro of a grim tableau of distortion, synths, and frenetic drumwork, Campos’s howls mark an incredible transition at the 3-minute mark to sheer fury and madness. Daggered riffs, manic percussion, and a deliciously groovy drive anchor her as she lays everything around her to waste. Like the best of Cult of Luna‘s spacey work, “Agnus Dei” is a monster of vocal-driven post-metallic maelstrom that sets up the rest of the album exceedingly well.
At this point I shouldn’t need to tell you to listen to Divino Afflante Spiritu when it comes out in a few weeks, but you’ll surely be seeing us post more about it in due time. For now, you can pre-order the album digitally through Labirinto’s Bandcamp and on vinyl through Pelagic Records.