Iran, not the sort of place you would expect to find a black metal band hailing from is it? Looking on Metal Archives out of interest I see that Iran has 47 bands listed. To be honest even with a handful of those having split up that is still more than I expected. Can this be topped? How about S. Korea; 187 bands, Afghanistan does not even have an entry but that is still not really surprising. I guess Iran would definitely be in the top 10 countries in the world least likely to have a burgeoning metal community though and fair play to most of those listed as playing death, black and extreme metal in one form or the other. Two of these bands are the work of Tehran based Count De Efrit aka Saman Nu. Silent Path are releasing their debut album but his other band Evoke Efrits have three as well as various demos and have been going since 2001. I use the word ‘band’ loosely as these are both one man projects, it must be incredibly difficult in such a secretive society working with someone else especially when you are likely to be transgressing all sorts of laws and putting yourself at no end of risk. Evoke Efrits had crossed my path before actually as I picked up the ‘Wraiths Of Forgotten Forest’ demo from 2006 as a random disc in a job lot. It proved to be very limited to 150 copies and despite country of origin had many European andUSAideas amidst its depressive strains, complete with a photo of a cloaked figure in corpse paint standing in the woods on the back.
Silent Path are presented to me as a ‘grittier, darker and much less optimistic project and one that ‘explores humanity for what it is, a disease, a virus’. In doing so this has a theme exploring war and conflict, the booklet includes photos from WWII and the album sampling the radio announcement of Hitler’s death. This is an incredibly depressive album make no mistake about that and at 54 minutes too it is going to do the best it can to suck your very soul out!
‘Empty Earth’ speaks of barren misery, the wind has swept and devastated and all that is left in its wake is misery. It is a bit like ‘The Road’ in musical form maybe. Vocals are croaky and rasping but not indecipherable. A bell tolls calling those who have survived to some sort of mass, but we have all seen The Omega Man have we not? It’s a short intro before we get into ‘Filth Of Mankind’ still at a slow stumbling pace, there is no Nathrakh etched filth here just a despairing one. The off key instrumentation stumbles around and it is impossible not to mention the likes of Xasthur instrumentally but it is the odd vocal stance that sees this in more of a unique place; lurking in the mire are some spoken word samples adding to the ghostly feel of it all.
Musically this does not change a huge amount but various things go on around it atmospherically including dripping water, buzzing flies, full blown rain and the odd scream. The production is suitably dank and things tend to jangle, reverberate and boom out thickly in the mix. Everything is wrapped in a wreath like shroud even when there are unexpected clean vocals lulling (certainly not soaring) around things. ‘Sarabe Aramash’ has an intriguing title and is a well formed slab of depressive melody as far as the guitar and bass sound is concerned, again the vocals make it stand out as you would not expect clean singing (in fact close to chanting) to accompany this. Equally unexpected is the last number ‘Unwritten story’ if you ever wanted to hear the melody of Jingle Bells to depressive piano tones you are in the right place. At least it’s honest (nothing bastard happy about that time of year).
So not the most original sounding album of all times but this is certainly an intriguing one due to its geography and corresponding political climate. I cannot see why any one who does not like Xasthur, Nortt and others of this nature would find much to complain about but do not go playing it if you want some happiness in your life, you won’t find it here.
(7/10 Pete Woods)