In December 2018 the Romanian black metal band Genune released their debut album, Cern Sol. Lyrically, the songs were preoccupied with time — “focusing on the inevitability of death and its distressing effects on us, the encompassing, unstoppable sense of decay that seems to affect everything, but also on the impression of moments experienced in the past, which linger in the mind years later, the remembrance of warmth and on a need to be alone, away, reflecting”. In the music, Genune did not limit themselves to the usual black metal tropes, instead drawing in elements of post-metal and neo-folk to weave their multi-colored, multi-textured tapestry of sorrow, anguish, remembrance, and regret. I attempted to sum up here the spellbinding experience this way:
“The album trip as a whole is like falling into a dream, and while there are bright and even hopeful vistas that pass before the mind’s eye in listening, it’s largely a dark dream in which the shades of lost souls and lost happiness are never far away, and in which anxiety and pain vie in battle with defiant resilience, and are more often than not victorious.”
Now Genune are returning with a second album, this one entitled Inert & Unerring. The core trio of guitarists Dragos Chiriches and Cosmin Farcau and vocalist/bassist Istvan Vladareanu are still in place, but have proceeded without their drummer on the first album, Daniel Neagoe. Their musical approach is not radically different from Cern Sol, but it is certainly no less powerful and captivating. It is, indeed, another triumph, and thus we’re honored to present today a song from the new album named “Eastern European Discontent“, accompanied by a beautifully made video that helps bring to life the harrowing and heartbreaking subjects that inspired the song.
Propelled by a prominent bass and steady drums, the song ambles along as if on a woodland stroll, but the mass of distorted riffing shrouds the wandering like a cloud of tension and painful grief. The vocals — part scream and part snarl — add elements of torment and fury to the excursion, and help draw out the feeling of inner torment that builds through all these ingredients.
Without warning the music changes course, softening and becoming both beautiful and haunting, like a remembrance of better times long lost. Something of that sense of wistful introspection carries forward even after the sonic intensity resumes, through a piercing and poignant guitar lead high above the roiling distortion. Clattering double-kicks and tumbling tom-work add fuel to the inner fire which builds within the music as it channels a kind of forlorn frenzy.
The melodic lead that then surfaces manifests searing sorrow, and another one wails in a sound of soulful yearning, a grasping at hope. There’s one more break in the song’s emotional intensity, another sudden digression, this time a moody but mesmerizing acoustic guitar instrumental, which slowly fades away as the closure of the piece.
The preceding words are just one listener’s interpretation of the song’s changing sensations and moods, and might have had little to do with what inspired the musicians. The choice of visuals by Eduard Szilagyi, who shot, directed and edited the accompanying video (with on-scene assistance from Calin Capalna), seems to underscore the feelings of remembrance and loss captured through the music — feelings rooted in specific places and peoples. The video alone is an engrossing and moving experience, and becomes a wonderful companion for the sounds.
And to these impressions by one listener I add explanations by Genune themselves (which I read only after listening to the song and becoming immersed in the video a few times):
“‘Eastern European Discontent‘ is about the space we inhabit, both mentally and collectively, as a post-Soviet and post-communist people. It draws from what we saw as ‘the heritage’ given unto us by those years: a general distrust of others, a sense of exile within one’s own environment and, somewhat ironically, an embittered form of individuality, borne out of the need to survive, that is more of a source of isolation than what some might consider strength. All of these explaining certain behavioral or temperamental patterns and characteristics, that, even if not entirely explicit, are observable in the populations of Eastern Europe, should one look close enough.
“The video was shot in Dej, Transylvania, showing a face other than the usual one that most black metal enthusiasts associate with this region. Eduard was given a basic understanding of the concept and the freedom to build upon it. Censorship, fear, submission, industry, prosperity, nuclear disaster, all are megaliths in the collective unconscious, that we try to give new meaning and understanding to, some in an attempt to overcome this legacy, others as an impossible return to authoritative order, now seen through the lenses of nostalgia.”
I also want to share what Genune have said about the new album as a whole: “Inert & Unerring contains tracks that are compositionally more akin to one another, but it otherwise follows the same stylistic choices seen in our previous album. Without going into detail, its theme revolves around identity and the past, exploring the notion of heritage through different lenses. Inert & Unerring is not a concept album, as the lyrics don’t have any plot or characters to follow along, they’re instead composed of images and perceptions put into words, to allow for personal interpretation. The title is taken from a novel written by Arthur Koestler, that is relevant to the subject matter of this album.”
Inert & Unerring will be released by Loud Rage Music on April 25th. You an pre-order it now: