Pa Vesh En’s Pyrefication begins as many black metal records begin, with a foggy sequence of sustained riffs and electronic noises that draw an atmospheric veil. It takes a moment to adjust to this tenebrosity. The music appears monolithic at first, until silhouettes of individual ideas start revealing themselves. Like a symphonic orchestra attuning their instruments in preparation of a concert, the Belarusian one-man project uses the opening “…In the Ghostly Haze” to timidly set the stage of its second full-length release, exploring and expanding into sound spaces. An overture befitting of the approaching black metal opulence.
These first few minutes of Pyrefication are tastefully layered: riffs and effects emerge from a void that shrouds instruments and that feels right here, everywhere around us, but is nowhere at all. And just when a certain drowsiness starts to emanate from this frighteningly pleasant ambient lullaby, a guitar harmony streaks across the backdrop. It bores through layers of bustling riffs and tortured vocals to momentarily surface in its distorted, murky, and gorgeous glory. Throughout, “…In the Ghostly Haze” manifests a painfully affecting sort of black metal, which moves slowly like funeral doom before ultimately evanescing into effects and textural rumble. It’s here that raw black metal becomes sound art. The usual tremolos, blast beats, and primal aggression are ingrained in sheets of rich noise. Instead of incisiveness and face-melting assault, enveloping atmospheres reign supreme but stay well clear of fatigued atmo black tropes.
It’s easy to get lost in this album. On the more focused cuts like “Wastelands of Plague” and “Call of the Dead,” Pa Vesh En’s thick cloak opens up slightly to let razor-sharp riffs and bass lines inundate the music while struggling blast beats push their way through impenetrable sonic terrains. We’re simultaneously detached and fully immersed in it as delicate leads, circling chords, kick drums that sound like a woodpecker’s drilling song, and ringing, crashing cymbals drown out anguished growls and sorrowful chants. Later, “Cacophony of Spiritual Transition” demonstrates some unexpected variety in Pa Vesh En’s songwriting. Throat singing and muted thumps cry out in agony, soothed by a wonderful melody that rests hidden in tintinnabulating rain. Then the track suddenly changes character. Tempos accelerate and rhythms become erratic as an attack is launched. Growls, sullen breaks, and dispersed invocations obscure the ongoing instrumental onslaught.
Despite employing a superficially crude production—traditional for similar acts in the genre—Pyrefication eschews the usual lo-fi tropes. The mysterious figure behind Pa Vesh En rather plays with this rough medium in a sophisticated manner, using its residual noise to underline and amplify the most compelling of black metal elements. The rawness is thus never reduced to a mere gimmick nor a trivial cosmetic effect. Instead, it is shaped around and embedded into the music. Because of this approach, there’s a sense of purpose and architecture throughout the record as if the music was following a well-thought-out scenario. While “Grotesque Abomination” marks a low point for Pyrefication with a skirmish just a smidgen too chaotic, the triptych of “With Splendor of the Night,” “Fog of Death,” and “Pyre of the Forgotten” ends the album on a high by completely embracing doom moods, embodying them in leading edge melodies, and projecting brooding and wistful sentiments.
For an act seemingly enamored with the raw roots of old school, early Scandinavian black metal, Pa Vesh En is intriguingly forward-thinking. Considering the relative infancy of the project, the jumps in quality in the past few years, and sharpening of vision that happened between 2018’s Church of Bones and Pyrefication, I’m curious to see how much further Pa Vesh En’s style can evolve and which new extremes it can reach.
DR: 3 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
Websites: too kvlt for the webz
Releases Worldwide: August 23rd, 2019