Pa Vesh En – Maniac Manifest Review

Another day, another raw black metal act. I was gonna go into the obligatory rant about how it’s the aural form of licorice, but suffice it to say: you either hate it or you love tolerate it. If you’re a masochist who likes to have your ears bleeding on the reg, dive in. If you prefer your music tasteful and somewhat reasonable, stay away. Unless it’s Pa Vesh En, who, along with acts like Black Cilice or Lamp of Murmuur, regularly provide tasteful interpretations of barbed wire tones. While former releases Church of Bones and Pyrefication offered stinging pain laced amid the foggy melodies, where does Maniac Manifest fall?

Pa Vesh En is an anonymous act from Belarus, who has quietly amassed a substantial catalog over the last four years: two demos, three EP’s, a compilation, a split, and two full-lengths. Often compared to Portugal’s Black Cilice in a strikingly atmospheric breed of raw black that feels more like Burzum rather than Ulver’s Nattens Madrigal, Pa Vesh En’s newest album Maniac Manifest offers much of the same to the highest quality, surpassing 2021 offerings from the likeminded Revenant Marquis or Irae. Unforgivingly scathing but evocatively atmospheric, moments of vulnerable melodies ascend the novelty barbarism of the style. Alongside trademark blackened shrieks, tremolo, and blastbeats, it offers highlights in hefty riffs, doomy weight, and striking melody without sacrificing the pervasively pitch-black atmosphere. Maniac Manifest is another chapter of Pa Vesh En’s beautifully raw catalog, even if it may not change your mind about the style at large.

Maniac Manifest dwells in a realm of black metal both venomous and dark. Listeners stumble through shrouded alleys saturated with fog or gas or both, as there is a weight that settles upon weary shoulders. Flashes of light illuminate the tight corridors; as you blindly run toward them you wonder and pray to whatever god is left that they are the light at the end of the tunnel, not the eyes of the all-seeing beast. Pa Vesh En accomplishes this atmosphere with a stunning balance of dense guitar-work, beautiful melodies, desperate shrieks, and commanding percussion. “The Eyes Full of Horror,” “In the Wood of Hanged Men,” and “Spellbound by the Witchmoon” utilize melody for somber desperation, while “Chamber of the Rotten Flesh” sports a Master’s Hammer-esque groove that injects palpable energy into the murk, and “The Black Coffin” utilizes a nearly funeral doom pace that revels in its weight, recalling the mighty Nortt in its monolithic quality. Unlike much of the style, Pa Vesh En is anchored by an extremely solid bass presence alongside its tastefully gutsy guitar tone. In this right, tracks are held together firmly by the density and murk; while tactics vary across Maniac Manifest, a strong core keeps the album from slipping into inconsistency.

While Maniac Manifest provides the light of its melody and depth of its weight to illuminate the path inside the dark, its labyrinthine quality can overwhelm in uneven songwriting. While “In the Wood of Hanged Men” offers perhaps the most touching melodies on the album, its abrupt shift into ominous riffs and back again delivers whiplash. “Conquerentes de Iniqua Nece Confessionem” has difficulty deciding on a tone, shifting between dissonance and desperation within the same passage, as its central melody grows wearisome over its relatively short length. Although ambitious in its use of spoken word and ominous plucking, “Sister of Sin” is jarringly brief, disallowing its intriguing tones adequate fleshing. It harbors the potential to be the album climax in a brief moment of clarity, a realization of another soul lost in the fog, but it ends before its hauntingly repetitive quality can make an impact.

I can wax poetic about Maniac Manifest all day long, but its impact largely depends on listener preference, as raw black’s proclivity towards inaccessibility tinnitus haunts Pa Vesh En. Like the ghosts it brings to life, the project’s third full-length is spectral and menacing, but its instrumentation and priorities keep it grounded in a shadowy world draped in fog. Its reach exceeds its grasp in select tracks, but that in itself is admirable, as the Belarusians are interested in progression rather than the umpteenth reiteration of Transilvanian Hunger. Packed with highlights and always adhering to its pitch-black atmosphere, Maniac Manifest sets the precedent for the raw black metal of 2021… even if it is still raw black metal.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Website: tve kvlt 4 yov
Releases Worldwide: September 10th, 2021

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