“Obscure Russian blackened metal with a very Eastern European sound” was the way this one was enticingly billed. A few bits of research later, I managed to glean that this band, which anglicises to Zatemno, is a one person project and this is his first full album after a previous EP, which was released in 2016.
After a folk-like opening, with swampy vocals and industrial noises in the hinterland making the scene murky, there is an explosion and we enter a roaring world of violent darkness. Yet in this blackness, there is an epic, almost heroic tone of warriors in the mould of Moonsorrow. But harshness wins out, and the growls and screams define this grim piece. A desperate sounding Russian then provides the spoken word. The mood turns melancholy with the droning and bleak sound of an accordion. We hear further cries and sinister whisperings, along with that fearful accordion sound. Out of nowhere a Russian song emerges but there’s no joy. This is bleak and ever more desperate. The music turns into a march. It is the music of cold winters and hardship. A dispassionate Russian says his piece as sounds of agony take up the background.
The depression is momentarily uplifted with a strong eastern-intoned guitar rhythm and the sound of warriors in battle. An explosion occurs and violence inevitable breaks out. There’s mayhem but the raucous sound also signifies epic battle. The vocals are harsh but this, the title track, has presence. Three and a half minutes in, it stops and the mood turns to sadness. A man croakily tells a tale, before the world is destroyed first by folk metal and then more violent and unstoppable outbursts. As the final of the four track starts, it is as if we are suspended in a cosmic frost. This 11 minute piece, “Kopot’ya Solnsta” in its anglicised form, becomes a black metal romp, driving forward and deviating into grotesque and disturbing soundscapes before the violent winds return and blast through our veins. The atmosphere is pungent. The air is filled with filth. Now and again, the onslaught stops for moody reflective passages and swampy reflections. But violent outpourings are never far away. The atmosphere becomes spookily sombre and oppressive, and this is how this enigmatic work ends.
This is an eclectic mix. The Russian agony and grey flavour make it more interesting. The artist behind “В петле” makes his point effectively through harsh, black and intense atmospheres. I don’t know what this album is about but the artist succeeds in conveying to us in no uncertain terms that his world is not a nice place to be.
(7.5/10 Andrew Doherty)