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Label: Porodična manufaktura

Date: September 17th, 2007

This is the oldest release I’ve reviewed in my career thus far. It is likely the oldest I will ever review, since there really is no point in diving such a long time into history. Especially when there are brand new records coming out day after day. Hundreds of them. Meanwhile, I’m sitting here, spinning a sixteen year old single song, from a long ago sold-out CD by a band that hasn’t released anything since this one track and is presumed dead and buried.

But I got the CD with a request for a review from a guy who wrote the lyrics for the song whose title you can see above. The guy in question is Milan B. Popović whose most recent book of poetry I have also recently reviewed on these blessed pages. “Urlik” was initially part of a compilation CD that gathered seventeen bands that each took one of Milan’s poems and added a musical background to it. Honestly, this was an impressive gathering of some pretty influential names on the Serbian scene, which almost guaranteed a collection of songs that could become legendary.

However, and also honestly, it turned out a bitter disappointment. It’s like there was never a real connection between these poems and the bands’ own musical visions that should bring about the magic all of them (poet included) achieved on their own.

Opening the compilation was Abonos with “Urlik” (“Roar” for my English-speaking readers). Now, Abonos entered the new millennium in Serbia as a leader in operatic gothic metal. Undisputed live attraction with two women in the line-up, but still very much a strong creative force that didn’t need to rely on bare-naked ladies to attract attention. Though recently dubbed “a poor-man’s Epica” by a young colleague of mine, they were actually a gigantic name for all of us teen metalheads in those days. And I still proudly stand by my statement that their only self-titled full length record from 2004 is among the top ten ever released in Serbia.

Though it might be true what my young colleague stated above and the band did emerge on the wave initiated by Nightwish, Within Temptation and The Gathering, Abonos was very much capable of crafting extraordinary tracks that were catchy just as much as those of their more famous inspirations. What they perhaps lacked in originality, they more than made up for with their properly energetic songs, driving melodies and correct atmosphere. Of course, being extremely in tune with their individual instruments didn’t hurt them and the ladies in charge of voices, coupled with a titanic one of male bass player (remind you of anyone?) guaranteed a loyal following among kids who didn’t get a chance to see the genre’s originators for quite some time after the initial Abonos’ appearance.

What the said album lacked big time was production. It was weak and sort of flat, never quite doing justice to what the band brought to the table. Their live performances promised much more than the album delivered. Which, in turn, lead to the description of “poor-man’s Epica”.

Still, the question of production is fixed on “Urlik”. The song came three years after the album, at the time when the band was almost forgotten and already presumed dead. Two of the singers left the band. Live appearances were scarce. Rumours about a new track gave hope. The track appeared but it was not what we wanted.

Abonos in 2007 seemed a different band. Operatic and gothic, but modern, progressive and complex. Drum patterns went into a nu-metal sphere all too much. Almost opposing them, you have kind of a ritualistic introduction, followed by a brief techno segment. Then it’s a bit like Annihilator before the opera arrives. If you’re not confused by now… I don’t know, it sounds to me like the band had ideas for a couple more songs, but they felt the end was coming and tried to exploit them all at once. This way they made the song seem like a bunch of pieces duct taped together.

But what hurt the most was that the song was nowhere near catchy or memorable as their previous works. Even now, I’m spinning the song for a couple of hours and still don’t get it. Even worse, it was a swansong that a band like Abonos didn’t deserve.

Oh, and lest I forget, there’s the question of lyrics, since the lyrics themselves inspired the existence of this song. It’s like fifty-fifty on the subject of hitting the intended target. For instance, how do you fit a roar into opera? Basically, you don’t. The lyrics describe feeling of wrath bottled-up inside a person. Eventually it does erupt in the lyrics and the music follows the energetic pattern correctly. However, I need a much angrier, spiteful tone of voice. Soprano is just not doing it for me. I can’t feel Mrs. Vlahović’s wrath. If only they had Mr. Vladimir Lalić still in the line-up. He rocked the vocals on the album and in here would be a perfect actor in the role of agonizing individual.

Alas, what’s done is done… Abonos is no more and judging from “Urlik”, it’s probably for the best. If anything, the track reminded me that I haven’t listened to the full length in quite some time. So, what better time than now!?


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