Unabashedly melodic, Celestia turn in another example of what they do so well. I found 2008's "Frigidiis Apotheosia" to be a somewhat distant record, more clinical in its delivery with little of the rawness that characterizes Noktu's best work in any of his many projects. "Archaenae Perfectii" is a return to form, a flowery bloom of gorgeous rotting riffage and near post-rock levels of guitar grandeur. This isn't Mogwai by any stretch but it's quite lovely, and the simple juxtaposition of all that melody played against Noktu's poisonous rasping vocals paints an incredibly effective portrait of aristocratic disdain and removal, a slow and airy walk through all the blackened mists of time's end and the garden of regret. Celestia trades on nostalgia both musically and aesthetically, referencing ruined loves of the past while forcing black metal's ongoing war with/embrace of melody to the forefront. The viciousness and raw delivery scream out to black metal's embryonic stages even as the songwriting pushes it away. It's an extreme duality that Noktu exploits to its utmost. This is black metal by and for purists-you either get it or you don't.
That elitism is what's always made Celestia such an underground phenomenon. This is the guy that owns Drakkar Productions and if that name doesn't mean anything to you then Celestia is always going to be a bit elusive to your sensibilities. The only really bad thing thing about "Archaenae Perfectii" is that its composition seems to have taken a lot away from Noktu's other (and in some instances better) projects. I can only imagine the utter mediocrity of Mortifera's latest was largely because Noktu's been concentrating more on Celestia at the moment (or maybe Neige had a bigger hand in Mortifera than Noktu would care to admit.) So it goes with Gestapo 666 (all but disappeared), Genocide Kommando (broken up) and Sick (also broken up.) All of these projects had merit and a distinct viewpoint while remaining obviously tied to one underlying aesthetic-an unrelenting sorrow and a vampiric yearning, violence tied to bruises tied to a beauty both wonderful and pornographic. Celestia summons all of that dizzying sadness effortlessly, but it's cost seems to be the artistic bankrupting of its sole creator. I'd sacrifice all of Celestia's back catalogue for another Mortifera album as heart-breakingly gorgeous as "Vastiia Tenebrd Mortifera," but that's romance of a different sort altogether.