Abaddon magazine

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Review: Krv – Grob i tama

Label: Krv Propaganda

Date: June 28th, 2021

Krv was one of the first (if not the first altogether) black metal bands to emerge from Bosnia. Being among the pioneering acts of the darkest art they embraced the sound of the global leaders of the genre. The initial five years of their existence brought along a number of quite memorable records, immersed deep in the Scandinavian second wave legacy. Somehow it felt like the band had nowhere to go but keep digging around the ancestral roots of black metal. Nor did they want to. They felt comfortable and the music they published in their initial phase clearly showed it. I still return to these albums from time to time with honest pleasure.

Being friends with the leader of the band, I got the scoop of the band’s resurrection quite early. And it felt amazing to hear about it. Looking forward to the new album, I must say, I expected something different. Well, not different. I expected something pretty much the same as it was a decade earlier.

Those expectations went out the window already with the appearance of the first single announcing “Grob i tama”. It was the title track of the record and it portrayed a band that cleaned up its act. Pristine production work underlying a clear thrashing foundation to the black metal build-up. Venom in their later years seemed to be the way to go.

Yes, it was different, but I still liked it. Very much so.

However, as it turned out, the title track is probably not the correct representative of the record. It is the fastest song on it and the only “thrashy” one. Furthermore, I would much rather say “Grob i tama” has a lot more of a doom than thrash metal influence. Still, black metal is the name of the game.

The second song that appeared online is a much better show of what is to be found on the album. “Kopaj svome tijelu grob” is a mid-tempo black metal tune which shows some twisted, dissonant riffing and a rhythmic variety that are omnipresent on the album.

Krv is now almost completely devoid of the minimalism that was the key feature of their early recordings. Though the songs on “Grob i tama” are relatively simplistic and neatly arranged, there is more to them than what you might expect from old school black metal. The whole album (minus the title track) is a mixture of ingrown melody and that second wave cold feeling, disrupted only by the heavy production work.

Fact is that you can hardly find any blast beating on “Grob i tama”. The aggression of the record is subdued to the atmosphere of the crawling fear. Steamroller rather than a freight train but once it hits it leaves a similar blood splatter.

With the obvious sonic growth during the decade of inactiveness (at least with Krv), Ban Krvnik seems to have taken a somewhat different lyrical approach too. A couple of these tracks might just have a social and political connotation hidden behind the gruesome lines. The ever demented political situation in Bosnia and the entire Balkans region seems to have left a mark here. The opener, “Troglav”, is likely the best example.

Yet the majority of lyrics are devoted to worshipping death and the state of fallen humanity. Not that many of you will be able to comprehend them as Krv uses their native language.

Speaking of the native nature of the band, it is nice to see that the ancestral motifs are still present in the layout, just as they have been from the very inception of the band. The layout itself is on the minimalist side, but it still depicts the essence of the band and the album correctly.

To tell you the truth, “Grob i tama” is an unusual album and a hard one to explain. It offers nothing new, but it is not exactly old school. It’s not a raw, primitive black metal album, but it is far from any contemporary experiment. None of the black metal “waves” completely fit as a description. The coined terms for intertwining genres are also useless here. Even if looking on the inside, into the regional, ex-Yugoslavian scene, one can hardly find a comparable record. Hell, you can feel Krv on it but you also cannot fully acknowledge what you already know about them. That is probably the biggest gain for Krv, 2021 AD. It is simply different. Is it a good move? Who knows and actually who cares? I’ve got myself another one to look back to, whenever possible.

Let’s see what the next decade does to Krv. Don’t ask me, I don’t have any information if the follower is coming sooner or later.