Selvans – “Versipellis”

Classical reception by Italian bands most often takes the form of recreating the glory of imperial Rome before it fell to the malignant forces, as they see it, of the modern world. Yet some artists, such as the folk/black metal band Selvans, look even further back in the past, to a time before the Romans had an empire, even before Rome had conquered and assimilated the peoples of Italy. This was a time when the peninsula was populated by a multiplicity of cultures speaking a variety of languages, each worshipping unique gods.

Selvans recreate in their music the rituals and mysticism of peoples intimately connected to nature and the primordial Italian forests. These included the Etruscans, the Sardianians, and the early Romans themselves. The name Selvans is itself the name of an Etruscan god of the forests, while their debut album “Lupercalia” recalls one of the most ancient Roman festivals in which the line between wolf and man is blurred.

In this particular song, which tells of the “shapeshifter” (Latin: versipellis) that lurks in the untamed woodlands, the band references the old Roman god Vertumnus, a god of fertility and the cycle of seasons, as well as the legendary Sardinian monster Erchitu. Selvans collectively assemble a new pantheon of archaic Italian deities in order to escape not merely from the contemporary world, but even from the whole notion of “civilization” defined by urbanization and imperialism. The forest beckons…

 “Giving you the strength
They stole to your existence.
See the curse of your kindreds
Doomed to live with a frigthening secret for centuries
Prey that the hunters which pass trough the forest
Won’t notice your spoors
Cruel is the spirit of who tries the anger
faithless is the hand of who fear the scrape on his chest.
Don’t look behind your back!
Torches of rage and despair
A neverending escape
Beyond the ages!
Comes from the forest
Roaming among the graves
To hide
His clothes
Into the Zauberkreis!
From time immemorial
the Necromancer’s hand
rises up to the sky to spread
the Versipellis course!
Don’t look behind your back!
Torches of rage and despair
A neverending escape
Beyond the ages!
Comes from the West
pouncing on rodents
to serve his punishment
the Eagleman!
His arms turn into wings
dark mud covers his claws
every man for himself!
The victims shreds are hanging from his beak!
Sing your deadly chant!
Elegy of the last faithful souls
To lunar cults!
Follow the white steer!
Together with demons and fiends
Through Erchitu’s path
Beyond the highest trees
Where Vertumnus marks the sky
A whirlwind of sand and dust
Absorbs my crying
Unchained among the crowd
My nails will hug your helpless heart
Descent to the rotten cleft
Where the harpies pricks your mind
Biting the flesh with cruelty and rage!
Your muzzle lays down to the moon!
E rough fur covers yours arms!
The horde of rabid souls
scattered among mankind
They live on the fears of heroes and men
moved by the Versipellis hunger!”

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