Bohemian Dark Metal
posted on 7/2012 By:
I have a shameful confession, dear readers: I was really expecting Bohemian Dark Metal to be mediocre. I had never heard of the band before, and the album just sort of arrived with little fanfare or press attention that I can recall (on Deathgasm Records, no less – not exactly renowned tastemakers). Plus, the album cover made it look for all the world like it would be a Summoning album, and I have very little space in my heart for a Summoning album made by anyone other than Summoning. Imagine my surprise and great joy, then, upon discovering that Avenger excels at the kind of stately, regal black metal that just doesn’t get made that often these days.
Avenger’s interpretation of black metal isn’t terribly far-removed from that of their more well-known countrymen (Czech-mates?) in Root and Master’s Hammer, though they are neither as boldly theatrical as the former (who is, really?) nor as quirky as the latter. Furthering the connection, Avenger’s mastermind is the drumming vocalist Jan “Honza” Kapák, who also currently drums for Master’s Hammer. Apart from simply adding to the somewhat slim but elite retinue of kickass bands led by hollering drummers (see also Absu, Deceased, and Autopsy), Kapák is possessed of a fantastic presence, his vocals extremely expressive and up-front without being overpowering.
After a wonderfully atmospheric introductory track in which Avenger’s full-time timpani player is used to surprisingly tasteful effect, “Fales a apatie” wastes little time introducing the band’s characteristic swirling, vaguely melancholic black riffage over nimble drum blasts and a nicely full-sounding production. “Dusevni chirurgie” demonstrates the band’s eclectic songwriting style, as it boasts a crunchy mid-tempo introduction that retreats for a brief acoustic set piece before switching gears yet again into a stormy two-step. The tense drum-rolling conclusion of the song is an unexpected touch that absolutely kills.
Avenger is at its best when spinning its taut riffs into decidedly mournful forms, as on “Vstric dalkam.” The album is far from a perfect thing, of course. There are some great impassioned clean vocals halfway through “Umirani zivotem,” but they are so overpowered by the full band clatter that their impact is sadly vitiated. More generally, these songs do tend to run on longer than they should, and the album loses steam toward the end. The album closer “Dark Metal” is a bit too straightforward compared to the rest of the album, though it does at least close things out ferociously with a fade-out blast false ending that leads back to one final rendition of the mission-statement chorus.
Nonetheless, Bohemian Dark Metal is well worth investigating for anyone even remotely interested in a darkly majestic form of black metal that doesn’t really fall into any of the genre’s major scenes or stylistic currents. Avenger likely won’t light the world on fire, which makes their hard-working metallic exploits all the more endearing. Inquire within for decent songs, good riffs, great vocals, and a heaping portion of obvious passion. And, if nothing else, Avenger has reminded me that no matter how long one roots around this seedy underground of ours, there’s always some hidden jewel, glittering in the velvet darkness just around the next corner. In this world, and its boundless wonder.
Register to post comments.