Label: Amor Fati Productions / Mystískaos
Date: January 20th, 2023
I’m going to go out on a limb by saying this is not, as proclaimed, a Finnish project. There’s just no way somebody in Finland is aware of who Arnaut Pavle was. Even among “famous” Serbian vampires he is a somewhat obscure figure.
Then again, who knows… Global village and stuff… I’ve seen it myself. Not the vampire, of course, but a documentary on a foreign television concerning those investigations by Austrian officials into strange cases of “vampirism” in eighteenth century occupied Serbia.
Still, that’s beside the point. Focusing on music, I’m sure you have some ideas in mind even without taking a listen to Arnaut Pavle’s second full length material. Having a Finnish (or perhaps…) origin and dealing with vampires might bring you thoughts of The 69 Eyes and similar goths.
But then there’s that word “Transylvania” that might just be the homeland of Count Dracula, but is also unmistakably tied to one of the best known and most influential bands and records in black metal. And there you are. Arnaut Pavle is a black metal band. Actually, considering the clandestine nature and scarce information available, it could be a one-man project too. Whatever the case may be, they remain an entity in close proximity to the core of black metal. Like, from “Transylvanian” in the title, through the musical hiss, all the way down to the cover artwork that is bordering on a simple man’s desire to be an artist (with a little bit of Photoshop included). Arnaut Pavle is aiming at clichés and hitting bull’s-eye every time.
Here are some of the song titles: “Come Curses“, “Baptized in Jesus’ Piss”, “Judgement from Below”, “Call from the Void”… I got a headache just from reading the titles. Not reading the lyrics makes me feel like I’ve gotten lucky this time.
Still, for all the clichés in the lyrics, the music is surprisingly effective. Of course, it also uses and abuses every black metal cliché out there but does so with a bit more style. When you get the full picture of “Transylvanian Glare” it might seem like Arnaut Pavle is devoted to making a tribute to black metal in general. On some occasions they are a portrayal of primeval chill of Darkthrone. Then they shift into the perversity of Impaled Nazarene, then mix it up with a pool of blood that is Belphegor (minus the brutality), add a bit of melody to turn into mid-era Dissection… After that, there’s this ultra-aggressive riff that summons Marduk to the stage. But wait, don’t dismiss this atmospheric yet evil piece that will please the Horna enthusiasts or that thrashy moment which refers to Venom. Emperor, Dark Funeral, Mayhem, Judas Iscariot… There’s everything.
You’ve certainly heard it all before. Except you didn’t. It actually sounds fresh as if invented last week. It spreads the darkness and satanic magic as the Scandinavian pioneers did three decades ago. “Transylvanian Glare” explodes with energy and attitude raising a definite eyebrow towards Arnaut Pavle.
Naturally, when speaking about this record, I don’t even think to present it as a spectacular release that will change the order of business in the genre. The album sounds awesome while it spins and retains the impact with every next spin. Yet, it is forgotten soon after it stops and even if you play it again, and feel the same power during the audition and even reminisce of certain points of it, “Transylvanian Glare” doesn’t possess enough to keep you invested in it for ages to come.
In other words, it’s a strong outing worthy of attention. It’s just a matter of how much attention.
And definitely change the designer. It draws attention but for all the wrong reasons. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve noticed the details in the first and “third” eye of the vampire depicted, but I’ve also noticed this happy-go-lucky smile on the face of close-up bat. Plus the execution in general needs to be much better. Particularly the contrast between the drawings of the vampire and bats and the background “etching” of some cathedral.