Not many people know Costin Chioreanu: the musician. Most metalheads know Costin Chioreanu only as: the artist. Having penned some of the best album artwork out there, including covers for bands like At the Gates, Grave, Sigh, Arcturus, and even this new Rendezvous Point promo sitting on my desk (just to name a few). Both faces of Chioreanu hail from Romania, where the musician has participated in numerous bands ranging from sludge, thrash, black, gothic, metalcore, grind, and death metal. Since the artist appears to have quite the workload, it’s not surprising that the musician is an “ex” member of most his musical endeavors. However, the outfit the musician still holds and controls is his own Bloodway. After releasing a five-song EP last year [Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon], the musician is back with a debut full-length filled with unsettling avant-garde black metal of a kind that’s so familiar in one respect and so novel in another.
Much like the work of Triptykon, Bloodway‘s Mapping the Moment with the Logic of Dreams is a journey that’s best experienced not only as an auditory art but in conjunction with a visual form as well; in this case, the artwork of Chioreanu. Though the artwork is stationary, the music is quite the opposite. Bloodway mixes blackish riffs, melodic builds, mind-fucking twists and transitions, unsettling whispers, saxophone overlays (courtesy of Sigh‘s Dr. Mikannibal), and emotional mid-tempo plods and clean-guitar leads that submerse you face-first in the muck. Of all its oddities, probably the one thing that will either make or break this release for you will be the vocals. Chioreanu isn’t so much “singing” as uncorking a bottle to relieve the pressure. The pain that comes through his spontaneous screeches are some of the strangest – yet, most believable I’ve ever heard.
After the impending doom of the ninety-second “Seeding Distance,” the album opens with a mix of post-metal (a la The Ocean) that busts open to reveal the anguished determination of “The Transfinite Castaway.” The kind of determination meant to drag you kicking and screaming to a nightmarish island of darkness, where an unearthly gravity pushes on your chest and the ungodly stench of fear and loneliness succeeds the oxygen in your lungs. “Walking Past Near the Lighthouse” (no typos here) and “Early Glade Test Pilot” crush your hopes – and coconut radios – with low, creeping vocals blended with ominous bass leads and the overwhelming atmospheres of hopelessness. “Early Glade Test Pilot,” in particular, creeps along like a tip-toeing boogieman before eventually exploding into the best riff and vocal arrangements of the entire album. For lack of a better word, the “choruses” on this song are nothing short of “catchy,” and the transitions are near-perfect as the entire song syncs from beginning to end.
With the atmosphere built, numbers like “Mirror Twins” and “A Hallow Bridge” blow you away with their simplicity and captivation. The former is second only to “Early Glade Test Pilot” in memorability, while the latter represents one of the best examples of an instrumental that buries you deeper into the album rather than allow you that sissy-horror-movie moment of relief. Dr. Mikannibal adds her saxophone beauty to the gentleness of the music for a brief instance before unleashing cringing saxy banshee shrieks that are both sultry and disconcerting.
Unfortunately, the direction created by “A Hallow Bridge” and the Dissection-inspired leads and layered vocals of “Garden of Diurnal Fractals” don’t quite carry over into the closing title track, making “Garden of Diurnal Fractals” perhaps a better choice for an album conclusion. And, as stated before, Chioreanu’s vocals are something else. I have grown to love them since receiving this promo but they are simply bizarre. Sadly, many will come out of this experience only remembering how much they disliked the vocals and bypass the creativity of the actual music. Production-wise, you get an offering as impressive as Chioreanu’s artwork. It’s clean, it’s clear, and every detail is meant to make itself present, not when beckoned, but when it feels like revealing itself. This is a huge improvement from last year’s EP and I feel like this is only a teaser of bigger and better things to come.