Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: Zvijer – Pod balkanskim noćnim nebom

Label: InsArt Records

Date: September 6th, 2021

Here’s the problem I have with Zvijer. I fear that I will start remembering this duo for all the wrong reasons. Actually, not wrong but other reasons. Namely, the cover songs they are recording. Along with the sampling additions to their own tracks.

Don’t get me wrong, these are all done to perfection. The last year’s album contained a stunning cover of a theme from a Serbian movie. This time we have an opportunity to hear how it would sound if legendary Croatian punk band Paraf played blackened metal punk. If that is not surprising enough, try listening to “Sin In My Heart”, originally by Siouxsie And The Banshees! Like it or not, these must stand out when you think about Zvijer.

Couple that with yet another homage to Serbian cinema in “Pulsirajuće ludilo” samples. Or the finishing touches to the title track bringing about the times of Ottoman rule over the Balkan Peninsula. Memorable pieces, without a shadow of doubt.

Speaking of samples, the three minute long rainstorm finale to “Sinteza propasti i stvaranja” is a bit too much here. Perhaps it could’ve been shorter, just to keep the tension up high for the coming cover songs. And speaking of the same song, the violin interlude fits like a glove. Far from any neo-classical attempts at musicianship virtuosity, it paints a disturbing picture.

Nevertheless, all of the above are the additions, however worthy of memorizing. The basis of Zvijer lays firmly on the black metal ground. Contemporary black metal ground, to be exact. The one which stems from the second wave, but could be, by now certainly, construed as altogether third wave.

You know what I’m talking about, surely. That kind of black metal usually labeled “dissonant”. Deathspell Omega and such. Still, while there is an entire palette of acts “bandwagoning” on the style, Zvijer could be seen as quite successful in their creation. Honestly speaking, they are not riding that wave to its fullest, which might just be the secret. They are leaning heavily on that unmistakable somber and dense atmosphere, but they do it in a somewhat unusual way.

Lead guitar, naturally, is responsible for shifting the paradigm. On occasion, at least. There’s a bit of early Dark Funeral’s hellfire melody in there. Also notable is the influence of traditional Balkan folklore within. Just to spark an interest. Thankfully it stops before turning into some folk or pagan metal.

Proving the previous album was not a fluke, Zvijer keeps displaying enormous talent when it comes to arranging the songs on this EP. Considering the length of them, it is of huge importance. And it is done properly. With all the tempo ups and downs the tracks keep afloat, producing an impact needed for the full appreciation of this work.

The band continues with the exceptional work on the black metal field of battle, which is exactly why I had to write that introductory note. It would be such a shame if all I took from “Pod balkanskim noćnim nebom” are the extras, however standalone they might be.

Be that as it may, this EP once again tags Zvijer as one of the most promising hordes to emerge from the Balkans in ages. Let’s see some wider, global recognition. It is about time!