(Allen Griffin reviews the new album by Pogavranjen, which only yesterday KevinP praised at our site as one of February’s top 5 releases.)
Croatian Black Metal madmen Pogavranjen have just released their latest full-length, Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem, courtesy of Poland’s Arachnophobia Records. Those familiar with the band’s avant-garde tendencies will not be surprised to find that the group have delved deeper into indescribable and unknowable depths on their latest opus. Whereas past releases have found the group twisting Black Metal in a myriad of unexpected directions, Jedva Cekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem shows them transcending normal genre categories to settle into a sound entirely their own.
The opening track of the record shows Pogavranjen engaging in what can only be described as a distorted Free Jazz attack, and with this onslaught the listeners already know they are in for something quite different.
As the second piece begins, one is confronted with the fascinating, almost-clean-toned guitar work that is a major component of the band’s sound. This is coupled with intricate and fascinating drum work and a high level of group interplay; what we are left with is a Metal band that operates with the sort of expertise of a Free-Improv group.
If one were seeking to draw comparisons to other groups, the first to come to mind would likely be Virus. The vocals often use the same Gothic flavorings, and some of the clean guitar work might be familiar on the surface, but Pogavranjen tend to vary things more by still utilizing Black and Death metal techniques as well. And where Virus has the sound of a well-oiled precision machine, Pogavranjen’s approach is looser but equally effective. The same might be said of any comparisons drawn with Ephel Duath.
Instead, it is helpful to look outside of Metal’s confines to locate the group’s sonic brethren. At times, they seem most to resemble Casper Brotzmann’s Massaker or the late Sonny Sharrock when he was operating at his most abrasive.
Either way, the results are the same. Whether Pogavranjen is at the outer limits of Black Metal or plumbing the outer reaches of Jazz, they have constructed an absolutely idiosyncratic sound. The proceedings are turbulent, dark, and unpredictable. One minute, the sound is understated and brooding, before shifting gears to brief moments of blast-beat style brutality, before turning on a dime once again to engage in bouts of free-form noise. And never does any of this come across as random. Instead, they sound well-rehearsed and completely in control.
The word “experimental” gets thrown around far too much in Metal circles. Oftentimes, groups claiming to be avant-garde are merely just technical, and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. Pogavranjen, though, are the real deal. For those who wish to explore the truly challenging and obscure, this particular group will pay off the investment in spades.