(Review by Patrick De Sloover)

‘Metal Mentis’ means ‘Metal Of The Soul’, and if you combine this with art, you will become ‘Ars et Metal Mentis’, which is the movement of Mario ‘The Black’ Di Donato. This artist seems to be renowned in Italy, and is hailed as one of the Italian Heavy Metal founders. Art, Music, Mysticism are the true essence, and besides creating music in an Occult Prog style, he also seems to be a painter with worldwide appreciation. That’s what I could read on the info sheet that was included with this release ‘Refugium Peccatorum’. While we did some translation we just go one step further as the title of this album means ‘Refuge Of Sinners’. This album was originally released in 1994, but Black Widow Records added 3 bonus tracks with a re-release date on 21/12/12. One of these bonus tracks is ‘Hallow’s Victim’, originally by St. Vitus. The band consists of ‘The Black’ on vocals and guitars, Gianluca Bracciale on drums and to complete the trio Enio Nicolini on Bass Guitars. The founding member and driving force of The Black played in other bands before like Requiem, Unreal Terror and Respiro Di Cane, not exactly names that ring my bell.

The last studio effort of ‘The Black’ was the album “Gorgoni”, released in 2010, and on Black Widow Records as well. The band was formed around 1988 and is still active since all those years. Their discography counts 7 albums, and for some reason, their third release was important to this label, as they decided to re-release it in 2012. Why?  What is so stunning on “Refugium Peccatorum”? A quest that took pretty long time to find out. Some refer to Paul Chain, Death SS and Black Hole if you want to compare musical styles, but I believe that The Black hasn’t that much to offer.

The album starts with ‘Refugium Peccatorum’, which is a kind of instrumental appetizer. The word ‘appetizer’ is deliberately chosen as it has the intention to guide you into the world of The Black. It has the task to introduce you to the band, so you have an idea of what’s to come. ‘Mortalis Silentium’ is the first real track, and from the very first moment you will notice that the sound of this re-release is still dated and substandard, compared with nowadays releases. I don’t think that there has been a re-mastering or polishing treatment on the original songs, as they all sound like it was recorded in a basement or similar circumstances. I can’t find any good reason why this band and album deserves another chance, as it has nothing to offer that is worth to be re-released. The Black will remain underground, and I do hope that the paintings of Mario Di Donato will be much more appreciated and will consist of a much higher quality.

This isn’t art to live with, this is hard to live with…

My rating:  40 /100 (mostly for the artwork)