CMPT – Krv i Pepeo Review

CMPT (“Death”) is an anonymous black metal project from an unspecified Balkan nation. (The band smartly chose their name based on visual similarity to the Cyrillic “смрт,” instead of transliterating the giggle-inducing pronunciation “smrt.”) Cacio e Pepe Krv i Pepeo (“Blood and Ash”) is their debut full-length, impressively being released on Osmose Productions. Krv i Pepeo is hardly revolutionary and most closely resembles traditional black metal, with straightforward song structures and wank-free guitar melodies driving the action amidst powerful drumming. But CMPT varies this tired formula by alternating between explosive riff-led attacks and somber dirges, using what appear to be subtle synths to assist the latter. This helps Krv i Pepeo retain some modicum of uniqueness in a crowded genre.

Krv i Pepeo’s peaks are both captivating and memorable. The record’s most striking feature is that each of the first five songs contains a section that seized my eardrums and held on for dear life. These highlights shine in distinct ways, like the utterly simple rock-solid main theme of the title track and the high-energy riffs of “Srce od Trnja” that call to mind titans like Sacramentum. Despite a limited musical palette, CMPT paints a wide range of emotions, with “Prokletije” (sadly not a Slavic word for “projectile”) building on a melancholy guitar melody reminiscent of Fen to underpin an emotive and impactful track. The perfect encapsulation of the album’s strengths is “Vrani Pir,” which weaves together two triumphant folk-tinged melodies while using clever drum changes to add emphasis, resulting in what sounds like a black metal cover of Eluveitie (in a good way). Though these highlights take several listens to sink in, they illustrate CMPT’s talent for writing compelling music.

CMPT leans heavily on repeating a few ideas in each song, with mixed results. Tracks like “Mesecev Zub” and the slow synth-laced closer “Na Vecernjem Lahoru” cycle through toothless ideas that fail to grab my interest, let alone keep it. But even the stronger parts of Krv i Pepeo tend to overstay their welcome, with the evocative melodies on “Prokletije” growing tiresome by the end, and mammoth “Memla” resting on a handful of riffs that lumber unsatisfyingly for over seven minutes. There’s nothing inherently wrong with repetition, and CMPT does use it well at times. “Vrani Pir” and “Srce od Trnja” are four-minute tornadoes that shine despite only relying on a few simple building blocks, by virtue of their restrained lengths and the sheer force of their melodies. But despite these successes, Krv i Pepeo feels bloated and dulls many of its musical ideas through overuse.

Inconsistency in its construction also causes Krv i Pepeo to fall short of the bar set by its best moments. The record suffers from a steep drop-off in quality as it progresses, with none of the last three tracks leaving a lasting impression. This is partly due to a decline in the band’s energy; while CMPT’s attempt to diversify their sound is admirable, the elegies “Memla” and “Na Vecernjem Lahoru” aren’t evocative or gripping enough to justify their sluggishness. This induces feelings of dreadful resignation during each listen as the second half of the album approaches. Questionable mix decisions also blunt Krv i Pepeo’s impact, with the cookie-cutter vocals riding high and the thundering double-bass drumming rendering the softer backing guitar nearly inaudible at key points (“Prokletije,” “Srce od trnja”).

The folks in CMPT are clearly talented and smrt, but have a ways to go. The best parts of Krv i Pepeo are skull-crushing and mournful; with better editing and mixing, the choice cuts could make for an endlessly replayable 20-minute EP worthy of a 3.5. As it stands, it’s an entertaining but imperfect debut that rewards patience but sags under its own weight, failing to remain interesting for 40 minutes. CMPT’s brand of black metal shows promise, but Krv i Pepeo doesn’t quite deliver on it.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Osmose Productions
Releases Worldwide: December 21st, 2021

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