Bohemyst – Čerň A Smrt Review

C’mon, plague doctors are fucking rad. Who else can look like that much of a bird and still come across as badass? Throw in a sickle, a full moon, and an aura of divine punishment, ignoring that the graphics look straight outta some 2008 Assassin’s Creed DLC, and you’ve got yourself a pretty neat lil’ cover there. So, fancy cover? Check. Black metal? Check. Band from Eastern Europe? Czech. All my rambling to say, my interest is piqued. Bohemyst better get my motor running or else I’ll verbally smite it into the next dimension.1

Bohemyst is a “blackened metal” quintet from Czechia, arising from the ashes of long-time death/black veterans Avenger, who retired the moniker in 2017. Featuring former members of the quietly monumental Master’s Hammer (drummer Honza Kapák and guitarist Petr Rámus Mecák), Bohemyst attempts to reflect the themes of the notorious Black Plague and Czech heritage, citing influences that range from its members’ storied history to those of Marduk and Morbid Angel. Debut Čerň A Smrt2 finds the Czechs embracing a riffy interpretation of the blackened arts that tosses in flavors of death and doom to create a honed balance of dark atmospherics and kickass highlights. Boasting veteran ethos with a dose of fresh ideas, Bohemyst offers a thoroughly enjoyable debut that is let down only by its lack of distinct identity.

As any act worth its merit that cites Master’s Hammer influence, riffs are going to be under heightened scrutiny, and I’m happy to report that Bohemyst delivers. While embracing the ethic of “less is more,” cuts like the title track, “Krvehlas,” and “Zvrácenosti Zvědavosti” offer head-bobbing riffs that pounce on the ears from amid the well-developed dynamics. Keys play a crucial but understated role in Čerň A Smrt, emerging from the riffs to evoke foggy streets and the screams of the dying amid the full moon’s hazy glare. This aesthetic grins its broadest in tracks like “Nekromantica” and “Na Umrlčích Prknech,” the feeling of menace creeping alongside and intertwines itself with the dueling doomy riffs and haunting clean baritone that slog on like a death march. Rearing its head in the insanity-inducing “Paní Lesa” and “Co Nelze Zapomenout,” which feature dissonant swells of stinging pinch harmonics and downtuned riffs alongside chaotic blastbeats, the keys offer a crystalline clarity amid the scalding intensity.

For every highlight that Bohemyst offers, there remains the lingering question of “okay, cool, but who exactly is Bohemyst?” From menace to insanity to pure blackened fun, Čerň A Smrt is content offering us the full platter of what each capable musician can offer, but there is a ton to absorb across its forty-seven minute runtime. Furthermore, there are flavors that stick out like sore thumbs: while the keys can enhance tracks with an evocative atmosphere, they stand in contrast to the thrashy “Kosti” as no more than an odd combo, and their use in neoclassical flavors in “Nekromantika” give more of a strange Wreche feeling. In more niggling frustrations than anything else, the endings of select tracks can conclude good tracks in stark ways, such as the abrupt fadeout of “Na Umrlčích Prknech” and the way-too-quick ending of “Nekromantika” that quickly crashes into the limp intro of “Do Chřtánu Smrti.” Ultimately, while tracks like “Krvehlas,” “Na Umrlčích Prknech,” “Paní Lesa,” and “Nekromantika” are all highlights utilizing Bohemyst‘s broad range of talents, each boasts a distinct palette that sounds completely different than the others, with only the tenuous thread of the delicate keys to connect them.

Don’t let that last paragraph discourage you: Bohemyst is ridiculously talented and Čerň A Smrt is ridiculously fun. Each member offers his unique touch that showcases the broad range that the act is capable of, adhering to a dark and mysterious atmosphere that reflects its title and artwork. However, at the end of the day, I’m still not entirely sure what makes Bohemyst tick. Through its relatively long runtime, we’re introduced to its vast range of tricks that refuse to commit to one particular palette, relegating them to “enjoyable” but little else. While it has its clear highlights, listeners are forced to take Čerň A Smrt one track at a time, instead of an overarching classic that its members are clearly capable of. I’m impressed by the veteran performances and the use of riffs and atmosphere, nowhere near next-dimension-smiting-worthy, but it just needs a bit more tuning up to get its motor running.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Petrichor Records
Websites: bohemyst.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/Bohemyst
Releases Worldwide: August 13th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. We reviewers have that power, doncha know. Uff da.
  2. “Black Death” in Czech.
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