The popularity of heavy metal in all its forms is staggering. What also impresses is the borderless nature of its appeal, as there will probably always be pockets of intellectual or emotional dissent expressed through aggravated musical genres. Places as diverse as Central Europe and the Balkans have proven a place of cultural exchange for millennia. That being said, there aren’t a lot of metal bands that come to mind when Serbia is mentioned (although Serbians and fans of worldwide regional scenes would probably beg to differ), but Death/Black metal newcomers Paimonia have gathered a bit of attention with their release of their first full length in 2013, entitled a ‘Disease Called Humanity.’ It is a solid album that takes some of the better aspects of death metal and its cousin black metal and combines them into a well performed and surprisingly cohesive work. The album sounds like the work of a much more experienced band and surprises time and time again throughout (Their 2012 EP also impresses).
Simply put, the production is fantastic, crystal clear and lush, the way a polished album of this sub-genre should be. All instrumental elements are accounted for in their respective roles, with much variation in tempo and creative uses. The overall atmosphere comes within range of comparison to Emperor’s brand of “Extreme Metal” that came about over that band’s latter years. Even the vocals are somewhat similar to Ihsahn’s rasp (including the cadence), which probably signals some sort of vocal discomfort for Bojan Vukoman, whom also expertly handles all other instruments excluding percussion. Said vocals could potentially be broken up or varied by placing them in context of more fast paced or slowed moments in the tracks. This could add to the already impressive amount of dynamism that occurs over the running time. This is my personal taste, but perhaps a bit of chaotic technical death metal or some obscured production methods of rawer or more orthodox black metal could do the trick in taking the instrumentation to the next level. Special kudos is due to the extremely athletic and energetic drum performance of Nikola Pacek-Vetnic. Strong and solid blast beats (that snare!) are alternated with creative fills and the tried and true d-beats of yesteryear’s death metal and crust.
Seven strong tracks of complicated and intriguing material are the result. A standout, “Depth Within Nothingness Called Life” ends up being one of the stronger selections for the reason that it develops and transitions well between its individual elements, and then really hits a nerve with an excellently place violin piece that expertly shifts the mood of the work. Sensitive use of guitar effects flirt with post-metal, making the album all the more contemporary amid its traditionalist bent. The penultimate “Funeral of Decaying World” is another excellent work that blends excellent reverbed guitar phrases into a dirge that reflects the lyrical ideas presented.
Lies deep in the womb of universe
Collapsed, rotten, infested through thorns of time
Swallowed by evil of gene that rots in same
The cure to heal the wounds – the burial of men.
The lyrics rely on some of the usual tropes associated with metal. General feelings of hatred towards mankind and the worsening condition of the environment are immediately relatable (this author has finally gotten around to viewing Earth Maiden Arjuna recently for instance), but what about some more immediate issues that effect the lives of the musicians themselves? What could strengthen the powerful words is perhaps a bit more specificity in their intent. While the current geo-political context of the region of Serbia has been well documented through the media coverage of the 1990’s Balkan conflicts, what do intelligent, creative individuals like Vokuman and his compatriots have to say on the matter? What is going on in that region that inspires misanthropy of this kind (aside from the universal reasons of course!)? It is a bit arrogant to ask an artist to answer such questions, but extreme metal (and related genres) are formidable in their cerebral handling of weighty topics.
There is much promise here.
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