Review: Deitus – “Acta Non Verba”

It’s always a delight to discover new local talent that remind you that your nation’s metal scene has plenty to offer the world. London-based black metal group Deitus gave me just such a reminder recently. Truth be told, I actually first became aware of them some months ago when they opened for Dead Congregation in Manchester alongside Incarceration and Wode, and while I came away impressed with their live performance, it was only recently that I really gave their 2016 debut album “Acta Non Verba” a proper listen. The album title translates to “Deeds not words”, and should be understood as a statement of intent: Deitus sound absolutely bloodthirsty, hungry to leave their mark on the world with their melodic, aggressive style of black metal.

The band adopt an orthodox approach to the genre that has as much in common with 90s bands Mayhem and Dissection as it does with contemporaries Mgła or Uada. Aggressive percussion and fast tremolo-picked guitar passages are balanced against slower, quieter moments, constructing songs not just out of riffs but out of dynamics. The aggressive, imperial march of opening song ‘Manifest’ sets the record up nicely. The brief minute-long interlude ‘Fallen’ presents a slow, tasteful setup to the onslaught of ‘Lightbearer’, one of the strongest tracks on the album and which reminds me quite strongly of some of Dissection’s most intense moments.

The contemplative pace of the melodic track ‘Ladder of Divine Ascent’ again owes much to Dissection, its dissonant chords and catchy riffs ringing true. The song ebbs and flows, seguing into a powerful guitar solo before returning to its aggressive assault with blastbeats, frenzied riffs and howls. The band shift between different patterns and tempos with varying complicated riffs and percussion, speeding up and down the maelstrom.  It reminds me of moments on Storm of the Light’s Bane. The influences are clear but the results remain astonishing. Closing track ‘Todestrieb’ is the strongest track on the record however, with evocative melodic guitarwork and impressive, varied percussion. The chorus is passionate and memorable, backed up by a powerful riff, and the fundamental strength of the songwriting shines through, particularly in the balance between the slower and faster sections. The song’s closing crescendo of blastbeats and aggressive riffs marks the album’s apex, and is an indicator of both the skill and potential of this band.

Clocking in at a concise 33 minutes across just five tracks, this is a lean, satisfying record. This is a dark, menacing album, with a formidable sense of purpose usually acquired much later in a band’s career. Though there’s room to carve out a more unique identity in the future, the confidence of the performances, as well as the dynamic songwriting and the band’s keen sense of melody and impressive guitarwork, all congeal into a great debut album. Acta Non Verba is well worth your time.