Phendrana is a one-man atmospheric post-black metal project laced with progressive, folk and rock influences producing infectiously catchy results. Mexico City based mastermind Anuar Salum, 17, has not only created an impressive concept album in Sanctum Sic Transit Gloria Mundi but also a style which stands out as uniquely his own.

Each of the seven tracks on Sanctum Sic Transit Gloria Mundi step the listener through a well crafted concept album revolving around the theme of a sacred place in which lost souls are sheltered. The album opens with Sanctum an excellently crafted nine minute post black metal piece that diverges half way into a progressive jam session and conceptually describes an ethereal sanctuary. The bulk of the remaining work is composed in three lengthier post black pieces with folk overtones focusing on the past life stories of the lost souls and an ode to the night. Three shorter atmospheric transitional tracks round out the album and concept (representing the accession of souls to the sanctuary). Anuar guides his listeners through his immersive concept using a competent blend of post-black metal, folk and atmospheric rock to create an organic body of work with an overarching cohesion, which really delivers the complex feelings of the theme. Seamlessly toggling between up tempo post black metal, euphoric progressive passages and passionate folk segues Sanctum Sic Transit Gloria Mundi is riddled with memorable riffing and melodies. While on a first listen I found some of the musical transitions unexpected, but after reviewing the albums theme the stylistic shifts made sense both conceptually and musically. In addition to Anuar’s blackened screams folk styled female vocals round out several of the tracks providing both an ethereal touch and a sense of balance within the music. When it comes to production and mixing the album is okay but does have some shortcomings. While the production isn’t an Achilles’ heel it does not do justice to the time and work that has gone into the creation of the music.

Overall this is a strong effort overflowing with enthusiasm and contagious energy. The author’s passion for his work is obvious throughout the album and creating music that grows on the audience with every listen. With improved production values and some tightening up on his style next time it isn’t hard to imagine Anuar’s work being showcased along side those at the forefront of the genre. From the sublime atmospheric post black opener “Sanctum” to the infectiously catchy folk infused “Where the Ages Meet to the Agalloch-esq closer “Gjenganger” the strength of the material presented and the capabilities of the song writer are undeniable. Sanctum Sic Transit Gloria Mundi would be a strong in most discographies but it is even more impressive as a debut.

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