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Publisher: Presing izdavaštvo

Date: June 26th, 2022

When last year I had the privilege to make an interview with Mr. Paul Speckmann I asked whether he thought of having his unpublished poetry put together into a book. You know, a collection of those lyrics he cannot fit into neither of his projects. The idea is not all that bad actually and considering the myriads of books being published more and more often, it’s not a brand new and unheard of. Then again, a book of poetry that might not be inspired by gory movies, horror prose, Satanism, war and other traditional extreme metal topics, by a lyricist of an almost necessarily macho / tough guy band… I dare say, that’s unheard of! Downright scandalous! What do you mean: “They’ve got feelings, too”!? Yes, they do! Feelings of wrath, hatred, abysmal terrorizing…

Meanwhile, as I leave the Cro-Magnons (not the band, of course, though I feel stupid just having to explain this) aside, we’ve got a person fronting a decidedly brutal deathrashing force. A person most commonly known as Vandal cannot have a soft side, can he?

But he’s exactly the person that inspired the question asked to the legend mentioned above.

Though his second book of poetry actually contains one poem used in the death / thrash metal machinery called Infest and has an infinitely less inspiring cover than the first one, it is a worthy sequel. What’s more, it shows growth but I’ll get to that a bit later.

For what concerns the one titled “Legija” on the Infest 7” single and simply “II” (they are all titled only in Roman numerals) in this publication, it stands out and then some. Not in style, but content. It is by far the most defiant and, in my opinion, stands as proof that Mr. Sokolović is not yet broken. Even when life does get him down, it’s the legions in the frontlines of his gigs that keep him going. A born leader and an unparalleled frontman on the Serbian metal scene.

Until he gets off that stage. That’s where “Muzika za gluve” (“Music for the deaf”) comes in. The collection is a valve that lets Zoran be the one we all know and love. All of his anxieties, fears and, dare I say, a few hopes lost and found, are condensed into these fifty or so pages that are indeed powerful enough to make the walls appear ever closer. Depictions of betrayals, both in words and actions, misunderstandings towards the fragile artist and scenes of endless drowning in the oceans of running alcohol… All of them colourfully presenting what’s behind the walls within.

Marching in the footsteps on mighty Roger Waters in his prime, here’s a man not afraid to show up without the cover of his pseudonym. Masks are off, clown’s face smeared by a drunken escapade… Here’s a man.

Now, Roger Waters he is not. But I did mention growth and need to explain further.

Mr. Sokolović didn’t move an inch towards shifting his topics. These are still booze-laden therapy sessions between himself and his reflection. The one slight movement in this department is a speck of glow in this darkness. There’s even one poem (kill me, I cannot remember the number under which it lays) that could be construed as a love song. Whether towards his significant other or the bottle on his table remains unclear, but that one is a definite light at the end of the tunnel.

The real improvement from the first collection is that these poems are deeper in execution. Though stylistically Mr. Sokolović holds on to easy rhyming for dear life, he chose the words much more carefully this time. Hence the depth which is not always there and even when it is, it’s not that obvious. The author lost a significant dose of predictability with using symbolism on a couple of occasions. Otherwise, his poems are still simplified. Not to the point of banality, don’t get me wrong, but these are real feelings by a real human being. In fact, real feelings by every real human being and therefore quite identifiable to each one of us. I would venture even further; these lines would perfectly serve as a litmus for emotional development, particularly in a world rapidly growing devoid of consideration towards psychological reasoning. Yes, just like this, simple and down to the point examination of whether you are capable of feeling at all.

So, heart on his sleeve, lifebelt to the soul and vent on the stages throughout Europe, larger than life Vandal, Mr. Sokolović presented his inner self. Have you got the guts?

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