Review by Aural Agravation (UK)

Christopher Nosnibor

The album’s title translates as ‘through difficulties to honours’, and this collection of Iberian folk songs, popular in the late 19th and the early 20th century conveys nothing if not the supremacy of strength of character, and a sense of journey, through adversity to triumph in a way which speaks of the resilience of the human spirit, and the human soul.

The album’s accompanying blurb sets the scene: ‘A travel through the rural Spain watered by our ancestors’ sweat and blood, an approach to the magical Spain with its lights and its shadows, and a gaze in to the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Pieces of memory, tradition, secrets and myths transmitted over the years from generation to generation, around bonfires, while long working days under the sun or during celebrations. Small samples of popular wisdom which, unlike others already entered into the mists of time and have been rescued from our elder memory before their demise.’

Folk music, by its nature, tends to be narrative, but also dramatic and allegorical. While the lyrical content is, admittedly, entirely lost to me, the sentiments conveyed by these ambitious reshapings of traditional compositions remain intact, and, using contemporary rock instrumentation Aegri Somnia succeed in rendering them powerful and moving in an alternative context.

To unravel the workings of this project, which was pieced together over the course of some five years, some biographical detail may be useful: formed by Cristina R. Galván “Lady Carrot” from the Castilian folk music scene and Nightmarer from the avant-garde metal projects As Light Dies and Garth Arum. Aegri Somnia is a folk / dark wave duo from Madrid, Spain.

If it sounds like a curious hybrid, Ad Augusta Per Angusta is proof that it’s one that can work well. It’s loud, dark, metallic. It’s contemporary, but also timeless.

‘Seran’ launches the album with an immense swell of theatricality, huge swathes of post-metal guitar propelled by a spiky drum machine bringing force and layers of drama to the gothic symphony.

‘Señor Platero’ is a beautiful, graceful folk song – played in a full-throttle metal style. The guitars burn, slabs of molten lava over which Galván’s operatic vocal soars s if swooping from the heavens to grace this interzone between the earthly and the ethereal. The loping drums and serpentine vocal of ‘La Niña de la Arena’ is high-tempo and high-power, but features some neatly executed techno-industrial percussion breakdowns. Entirely incongruous with the origins of the material, such features serve to highlight the versatility and absolutely timeless nature of traditional folk music.

Elsewhere, on ‘Charro del Labrador’, the violent, top-end-orientated drum track duels with a chorus-heavy picked guitar line to create a sound that will resonate with anyone who’s heard – and enjoyed – a bootleg containing demos by The Sisters of Mercy from circa 1984. I’m probably writing for myself alone at this point, but this is by no means an album exclusively of interest to old goths. Far from it.

The album’s sound is dominated by big, grainy, up-front guitars with a thick, metallic edge: sometimes almost overbearingly so. That’s by no means a criticism per se: the production values are unusual, in that the guitar sound is as ‘unfiltered’ as it is up-front, a shade messy, and prone to burying everything else in the mix, including the vocals. All of this adds to the potency of Ad Augusta Per Angusta, an album which yields rewards through perseverance. Exactly as the title foretells.

Review by Beach Sloth (UK)

Beautiful and brooding, Aegri Somnia sculpt a unique hybrid of folk, goth, and post-punk on “Ad Augusta Per Angusta”. Emotionally resonant the way the songs are structured reveals a true talent for form as the songs soar off into the sky. Throughout the album Aegri Somnia employ a surrealist bent to the proceedings as everything swirls about in a stately haze.  Rather spirited the pieces possess a great depth to them while they explore vast swaths of territory. By far the highlight of the album and what ties it all together are the compelling vocals which rest in the very heart of the sound. 

Opening things up on a high note is the expressive work of “Seran”. At first so delicate the song builds up into a muscular, commanding sound. Trading out the acoustic guitar for distortion laden riffs the piece transforms into an unruly tempest. Easily the highlight of the album the song’s haunting melody lingers in the mind long after it has ended. Layer upon layer of sound work wonders on the dark “La culebra”. Flourishes occur with fanfare leading the sound out. Somewhat reflective is the blissful work of “Le deshora”. Rather hazy in temperament is the sprawling riffs of “Romance de Santa Elena” which gives the song a lush rich feeling. Percussion anchors the powerful “Ronda de mayo” with a rhythm that grows in strength. Elements of metal emerge out of the tortured sound of “Charro del labrador”. Closing the album off is the late 80s darkwave vibes of “Veneno”. 

Aegri Somnia forge a unique sound that is entirely theirs on the sweeping scope of “Ad Augusta Per Angusta”.

Folk music as responsibility: An interview with Archaic Triad Staff

Folk music as responsibility: An interview with Aegri Somnia
By Archaic Triad Staff in FOLK INTERVIEWS  March 27, 2017

In the beginning of 2017, Spanish duo Aegri Somnia released one of the most spectacular folk/metal combos heard for years. Rather than the more typical folk metal approach, with basic metal song writing using folk melody riffing, Ad Augusta Per Angusta infuses rather traditional folk music with extremely distorted guitars and other metal elements. Essentially, what they produce is “metallic folk” rather than the other way around, and the result is simply amazing. We sent off a row of questions for Nightmarer and Lady Carrot.

Hi! Let us begin with you briefly introducing yourselves and your backgrounds. What did you do before, and what do you do besides, Aegri Somnia?
Hi, we are Aegri Somnia, a Spanish folk music project. Cristina (aka Lady Carrot) comes from folk music and Oscar (aka Nightmarer) plays with many bands, such as Aversio Humanitatis, Autumnal and As Light Dies.

Your biography describes Aegri Somnia being born in a kitchen in northern Spain, as the two of you began playing a guitar and a Spanish tambourine. How did you proceed from there? How did you go about composing and arranging the songs?
It was the result of an atypical jam session, we really liked the result of mixing black metal chords with Iberian folk so we decided to record some songs. Then we published them and expectations started building among some people.

Did you finish all writing and arranging before going into the studio, or did you write and record the music in a parallel process?
As we own a recording studio, and also each song has different instruments, the recording period lasted several years. When we had everything finished, we recorded all the guitar and bass parts again.

The melodies and songs on Ad Augusta per Angusta are from traditional Iberian folk music, some of which is not very well known outside (or even inside) of Spain. Would you mind telling us about it?
These songs are part of Iberian oral tradition, and originally performed with mainly voice and percussion. Our musical arrangements are the new thing added to this traditional music. All these songs are not known because here in Spain it is associated with the old, boring period during Franco’s dictatorship. Also the music culture in Spain is going really downhill, and there is no interest in music in general.

You used many different traditional instruments on the album. Tell us about these – do you own many of them yourself, are they difficult to come by? Are there any special advantages or problems when preforming and recording with such instruments?
We had already played these instruments before beginning this recording. Maybe they are not as difficult to play as a piano, but they require practice just like other instruments, and preforming comes with an additional difficulty because you need to sing while you are playing. The main difficulty was to mix electric guitar with these traditional percussion instruments, because this sound was never done before. As you work with extreme distorted guitars you need to make the percussion sound powerful.

How would you describe your personal relationship to Spanish folk music?
(Lady Carrot) Since I was a child I’ve heard my mother and my grandfather sing, it was part of our life. Since a few years back I have come to understood that folk music is a responsibility, a legacy, a part of the identity of a country. I like to think that my voice is actually the voice of many people who have already died, but who contributed a bit to my life. So my relationship with folk music is a commitment, I owe it to those who were before and to those who will come.

It is quite common for metal bands to include folk melodies, but your work does things differently, and while there is both heaviness and aggression expressed through distorted guitars, the basic song structure and the percussive elements are far more folk than metal based. How did this particular marriage of styles, with metal as a subordinate though still important partner, come about?
This marriage was done just by mixing two very different worlds in a way which had never been done before when we decided to try it. Maybe all folk metal bands used to have their roots in heavy metal music, and we don’t. That is the main difference.

Do you think there is much interest in Spain today for folk music in general? How about the metal scene – do people normally into harder stuff get and appreciate what you’re doing?
Here in Spain many have a phobia for some folk music. Also the Iberian folk music scene is even more orthodox than metal people, which is the reason why we are more welcome among metal people than among Iberian folk followers, who are more purist.

What of the lyrical themes? My knowledge of the Spanish language is limited to “Una cerveza, per favor” and a few other tourist phrases. I assume the lyrics are traditional, but what subjects do they deal with? Do they differ from modern, common Spanish, with many archaic forms and such?
What kind of topics are you able to find in folk music? Any single one, and that is the reason why oral tradition exists. The need to communicate. The subjects are war, love, tragedies, misery, grief, crimes, traditions, cheating, nature, religion, death, work…

Will you be able to perform live with Aegri Somnia, and are there such plans already?
We did already play live, two years ago. We have written to some organizations and fests, and are waiting for people to call us. Soon we will do some shows in order to let Ad Augusta per Angusta be known.

Would you consider Aegri Somnia a full-fledged, permanent “band”, or more of a project? Do you see yourself beginning work with another album quite soon, or will you focus on other musical ventures for a while now?
We are already working on new songs for a new album of traditional folk songs from the Spanish civil war, but the better the results of this album the sooner we will have the new recording.

What other future plans do you have, for yourselves and for Aegri Somnia?
We are preparing ourselves to perform our music live. We expect to play live soon, so we get the chance to sell our album.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to ask you a few questions. Do you have any parting words? Anything we forgot to ask, perhaps?
One of the purposes of Aegri Somnia was to make people pay attention to folk music. Thanks for having listened to it.

New review by Beneath the surface magazine

The thing with Satanath and Symbol of Domination, such is the variety of music on offer from both labels, you never know what to expect… so here’s an album based on old Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century. Yeah, that took me by surprise as well.

Translating it into what you are really going to hear, is ethnic based Metal. Mysterious female vocals lead the way and the twisting rhythms, despite me already knowing their origin, have a distinct Middle Eastern flavour… ok, Iberian flavour.

Whether it’s the Mongolian Folk Metal of Nine Treasures, or the Jewish and Arabic flavours of Orphaned Land, I love the culturally diverse variations Metal can produce. And this album is no different.

The Metal content isn’t as high as the two bands I’ve just mentioned, but it’s certainly worthy of being mentioned in the same conversation. I’d say it has more in common with some of the more ethereal moments from Liv Kristine’s illustrious career, than your average Metal band.

Would it be offensive to describe this as Gothic Metal meets Rock and Metal infused belly dancing? Because that’s what my brain thinks it is.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s a nice distraction from the normal (louder) promos that come my way.

Aegri Somnia "Ad Augusta per Angusta" reviewed by The Headbanging Moose

"A compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the early 20th century, where Spanish oral traditional music is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as Black, Folk and Experimental Metal."

Whenever metal gets blended with any other type of music
in the world, in special with more traditional styles and genres, the result is
always beyond interesting, transpiring creativity, passion, feeling and
entertaining us all in a different way than our usual metal bands. That
encounter of the fury and darkness of heavy music with distinct non-metal
sounds is exactly what you’ll experience in Ad Augusta per Angusta, the debut
full-length album by Madrid-based Black/Avantgarde Metal project Aegri Somnia,
where Spanish oral traditional music, unknown even for most of Spanish people,
is mixed with the harmonic eccentricity typical of musical styles such as
Black, Folk and Experimental Metal.

Aegri Somnia are Cristina R. Galván (also known as Lady
Carrot), from the Castilian folk music world, and multi-instrumentalist
Nightmarer, from the Avantgarde Metal scene (As Light Dies, Garth Arum), who
decided to form the project in 2012 in an old ghostly house located in a
northern Spanish valley, surrounded by loneliness, silence and the smell of wet
earth. And it didn’t take long for the duo to give life to Ad Augusta per
Angusta from the harmonious union of their skills and backgrounds, offering the
listener a compilation of Iberian popular folk songs from the late 19th and the
early 20th century, a travel through the rural and magical Spain with its
lights and shadows, and a gaze into the abyss of the black and tenebrous Spain
with the inner cruelty and brutality of human beings. Featuring a stylish
artwork designed by Cristina and Nightmarer themselves, Ad Augusta per Angusta
will certainly redefine the way you see folk and metal music.

Serene acoustic guitars and the delicate voice by
Cristina kick off the folk composition Seran, full of traditional Iberian
elements and showcasing a steady, melancholic atmosphere. Furthermore, all
additional instruments played by both Cristina and Nightmarer are necessary to
the music, never sounding out of place. Aegri Somina offer heavier guitars and
a rousing vibe in the excellent and classy chant Señor Platero, presenting a
great performance once again by Cristina on vocals while Nightmarer brings the
word “metal” to the musicality in a perfect balance between extreme music and
Iberian folk; followed by La Culebra, a song that’s at the same time tailored
for a dancing performance and for a metal concert. Not only Cristina changes
her tone a bit in this song, sounding more aggressive than before, but also the
song’s symphonic elements enhance its darkness, cohesiveness and taste.

La Deshonra, the longest of all tracks, transpires
melancholy through the beautiful acoustic guitars by Nightmarer and the
passionate vocals by Cristina, and despite the music not having any breaks or
variations, that doesn’t mean it’s not a great song. In fact, its constant
rhythm is what makes it mesmerizing. In Molinero – Vengo De Moler, the fusion
of metallic guitars and the classic sound of unique instruments like spoons,
clamps and stomps, among others, creates a fantastic ambience for Cristina to
declaim the song’s lyrics, filling all spaces in this exotic and fun
composition, whereas in La Niña De La Arena, one of the best tracks of the
album, the duo speeds up the pace and delivers sharp guitar lines, both
electric and acoustic. This is indeed an intricate chant displaying several
different instruments and layers, with nuances of modern folk music to spice it
up a bit. And exhibiting a softer side, Cristina and Nightmarer focus on the
more gentle sounds of their instruments in Romance De Santa Elena, generating a
calm atmosphere where Cristina beautifully tells the story through the song’s
poetic lyrics.

Ronda De Mayo brings Iberian folk with hints of modern
Hard Rock, Folk and Progressive Metal, feeling like part of the soundtrack for
a dark movie, with its percussion and synths working really well, keeping the
music flowing smoothly. Then we have Rondón Del Enamorado Y La Muerte, another
dancing tune full of clapping and acoustic lines keeping up with the Spanish
traditions, with Cristina going back to her sharper vocal lines while
Nightmarer does an amazing job with his unstoppable guitar, and Charro Del
Labrador, where Cristina continues to showcase her tender vocal lines, with the
musicality in this case being denser than usual thanks to the heavier beats and
louder folk instruments. I personally think this experimental composition
should sound very interesting if they record a full metal version of it. And
Veneno, the last composition in Ad Augusta per Angusta, offers the listener
atmospheric passages and a high dosage of melancholy, and albeit not being a
bad composition, it’s in my opinion slightly below the rest of the album in
terms of creativity.

It’s extremely easy to know more about Aegri Somnia and

their music. For instance, you can listen to the full album on YouTube, where
you can also watch an amazing video by Cristina herself speaking about the
traditional percussion instruments used in Ad Augusta per Angusta and other
details about the Iberian oral tradition (with subtitles in English available).
You can also follow the duo on Facebook, and purchase Ad Augusta per Angusta at
their BandCamp page, at the Symbol Of Domination’s BandCamp page, at the
Satanath Records’ webstore or at Discogs. And if exploring new music is part of
your life, then you’re more than welcome to join Cristina and Nightmarer in

their voyage through the darkness and light of the rural Spain.

Les Eternels chronique de Ad Augusta Per Angusta (16/20)

L’Espagne, en tant que pays latin, est étiquetée comme un pays machiste.  Paradoxalement, la femme y joue un rôle fondamental. Pas assez ample, c’est en tout cas ce que considère un important secteur de la population, dans lequel je m’inclus, mais fondamental. Le culte de la Vierge Marie n’est qu’une illustration symbolique de la haute importance du mal nommé « sexe faible » de l’autre côté des Pyrénées. Considérée comme la base de la famille, elle représente, entre autres, le sens du sacrifice, du travail et de l’abnégation. Et aussi : elle chante.

En bon « guiri » (les Européens du Nord) ou « gabacho » (nom péjoratif pour désigner les Français) -c’est-à-dire en véritable ignorant du folklore local, malgré plus de quinze ans passés en terre ibérique- j’ai cru, en écoutant pour la première fois Ad Augusta Per Angusta, tenir une version métallisée des chansons traditionnelles andalouses. « Tiens, chérie, pour une fois, ma musique à la con pourrait te plaire ! C’est du flamenco à la légère sauce metal-electro ! » . La réponse ne s’est pas faite attendre : « Tú eres gilipollas, ¿o qué te pasa? », que l’on traduira gentiment par « T’es vraiment un **&%$, non ? » J’ai pu apprendre ainsi, que, malgré des mélodies sonnant « du sud », le rythme des .chansons ne correspondait en aucun cas à du flamenco. Si "Veneno" provient de la région de Huelva -ouest de l'Andalousie-, l’inspiration  d’Aegri Somnia est puisée dans une large partie du territoire ibérique (de la Cantabrie à Madrid en passant par la Galice), et l’objectif du groupe est simple : métalliser avec finesse le legs traditionnel de ces régions. Avec finesse, car le duo ibère privilégie très franchement la chanson initiale aux décibels et à la castagne. La preuve : la rythmique est entièrement assurée par le tambourin (la « pandereta ») et autres instruments à percussion populaires d’antan, au détriment de la batterie. Les guitares et les beats electro font au mieux jeu égal avec la tradition ("Señor Platero", "La Culebra", "La Niña de la Arena"), mais en général, elles ne font qu’électriser les titres du bout des doigts.

Par conséquent, toute personne n’appréciant pas un tant soit peu ce folklore méridional peut passer son chemin directement. Les amateurs de ce genre de mélodies pas forcément très adaptées au metal, tout du moins a priori, pourront en revanche apprécier la voix de Cristina aka Lady Carrot, remarquable de précision et totalement faite pour ce type de chanson. Souple, modulé, son organe vocal possède une gamme ample et la demoiselle monte parfaitement dans les aigus, sans indisposer l’auditeur, bien au contraire ("Seran", "Rondón del Enamorado y de la Muerte"). La musique ne fait, en général, que mettre en valeur ses envolées, comme la tradition l’impose, et c’est peut-être le seul défaut de l’œuvre : un (trop ?) grand respect du folklore. Seuls "Señor Platero" et l’immense "La Culebra" osent mettre à mal les versions originales. La première est la plus remuante de l’ensemble, grâce à une guitare tranchante l’espace d’un morceau, tandis que la seconde réussit une symbiose inespérée entre chant traditionnel, beats electro et guitare, et se permet même le luxe d’intégrer un break symphonique inattendu et somptueux. Pour le reste, Ad Augusta se « contente » d’exciter légèrement des chansons dont la portée émotionnelle est souvent haute pour les amoureux du plus beau pays d’Europe. "Molinero – Vengo de Moler" et "La Niña de la Arena" montrent un visage rythmé, là où "Romance de Santa Elena" développe doucement sa mélodie, et, de manière globale, on ne déplora que très peu de déchets sur cette bien belle ode au folklore de la péninsule ibérique.

De par sa nature, Ad Augusta Per Angusta ne peut séduire qu’un public métallique restreint, mais si vous éprouvez certaines affinités avec la tradition ibérique et n’êtes pas insensibles au chant des sirènes du sud, tentez l’aventure. Le second album d’Aegri Somnia est natif d’un pays où l’on crache moins sur ses racines que sous d'autres cieux, et ça se ressent.

Necromance reseña Ad Augusta per Angusta

Entre TONY WAKEFORD, CORDE OBLIQUE y NATURE AND ORGANISATION uno puede decir que ya va servido de producciones folclóricas, pero para ser justos y realistas hay que decir que el mundo del neofolk contiene un encanto infatigable, el paradigma de lo añejo mezclado con la constitución vanguardista constituye una de las mayores gamas sonoras, siendo esta ventaja innata de la música el principal impulso de la banda que vamos a analizar.
AEGRI SOMNIA (que comparte nombre con un thriller canadiense) es la expresión latina que hace referencia a los sueños del enfermo, una perspicaz denominación que a nivel semántico refleja la esencia de su música, y es que “Ad augusta per angusta” es una excentricidad turbia y delirante, un trabajo monumental que combina la angustia lírica refinada con lo acústico y lo clásico, más la extrema dureza distorsionada del black metal.
Los cánticos melosos y taciturnos de Lady Carrot agitan la fortaleza anímica al adoptar la sonoridad del gallego, presente en el primer tema “Seran”, un idioma capaz de transmitir la morriña y la tristeza mejor que ninguno, más la simbología de pasajes grises narrados en castellano; por desgracia, la percepción de su canto se ve afectada por el manto sobredimensionado de riffs blackers, y los interludios de silencio y marcha apaciguada son pocos, así que su desempeño y las fábulas que se recrean en las letras pierden impacto.
La línea de las guitarras es muy efectiva, la calidad de la composición recuerda al black metal más primario y ponzoñoso, de la misma manera con esa esencia tradicional podemos describir a las panderetas, a la guitarra acústica, a las gaitas y otros instrumentos mucho menos conocidos y utilizados como las cucharas, el pandero cuadrado, las panderetas gallegas… piezas de acompañamiento que, junto con las palmadas, sustituyen a la habitual batería.
También se procura la ambientación a través de efectos electrónicos, siendo estos bastante descarados y espontáneos, formalizando el enfoque experimental que se intenta lograr en este vanguardismo de 11 piezas. Las resonancias se podrían equiparar a las que presumen bandas como ALTAR OF PLAGUES y LITURGY.
La gran pega de este álbum recae en la producción, la presencia de las guitarras eléctricas es demasiado hegemónica, oculta el encanto de las líneas vocales y del resto de la instrumentación en casi la totalidad de las canciones, y es una verdadera pena, porque se puede percibir (una vez que se aumenta el volumen) que el papel individual realizado por cada uno de ellos es de notable calidad, las que más sobresalen en equilibrio serían las de la segunda mitad del disco, como son “Romance de Santa Elena” y “Ronda de mayo”.
Pese a este destacado desliz en la producción, “Ad augusta per angusta” es un gran álbum que mezcla el tenebrismo del dark wave, la magia del canto popular, el resurgir del black más convencido de sí mismo y letras de narrativa tradicional. Un experimento eficiente y notable que de tener una producción más lúcida se hubiera convertido en una obra de culto indiscutible; sin embargo, lo recomiendo encarecidamente.