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First impression I had from listening to Medico Peste's "א: Tremendum et Fascinatio" is that the band hailed from France, what with the obsession with death and plague, and the general sense of mental derangement, but the guys actually hail from Poland. To be precise, from Krakow, the former archbishopric stomping ground of one Pope John Paul II, which might explain the religious fixation.
Their second major release after a demo, "א: Tremendum et Fascinatio" presents as quite a strong and raw recording, mixed in pace, with a very pronounced atmosphere of mental derangement. Vocals are shouty and surprisingly cleaner than might be expected for this style of melodic and technical BM. Intro track "The Grand Illumination" shows us what to expect: repeating riffs, mostly slow rhythms with brief outbreaks of blast-beat aggression, demented vocals and plenty of dark space in and around the music. If anything, most songs err by being too repetitive and a bit monotonous at times.
As the album progresses, the mental illness angle does get played up to good effect with goofy singing and sometimes I think adding the odd solo organ melody or two might suit this recording to relieve the monotony. The guitars with their dark sparkly jangle tones and bristly noise textures can only do so much if the riffing and melodies to start with aren't very distinctive and memorable. The sound needs a bit of beefing up: it's very trebly and the drums sound hollow and thin. There is room for lead guitar to break out into crazed solo journeys but unfortunately the band doesn't take up this opportunity to liven up the music with strings-led aggression and lightning attack.
The production on the album is clear and fairly sharp. As the songs are middling in pace, there's a lot of space that the band could have played around with. A cold, creepy, spaced-out atmosphere that might have emphasised the sense of isolation that leads to madness could have been included. "Thanksgiving" comes closest to creating a distinct ambience of crazed mental illness with a spacey passage near the end where the vocalist wanders off into a psychotic wilderness.
Overall this is not a bad effort for a first album and over time the band is sure to improve and build on this foundation. I think though that the guys are more restrained here than they should be, given the theme of madness here, and they could have let rip with some totally insane improvisation running all over the joint and bringing some real chaos into the album. Medico Peste may relax on the follow-up album and perhaps that will be where they will spring some real surprises.
This is a tangible illness, a slick disease that coats your fingers and never disappears from under your nails. Medico Peste have insured that naught but misery and desperation waft constantly from 'א: Tremendum et Fascinatio', a release so audacious in its confidence, it is almost impossible to believe it is a debut full-length.
While utilising what has come to be known as the 'French sound', a now quintessentially Gallic form of audio, most recognisable from the likes of Merrimack and Glorior Belli, Medico Peste have injected just the recommended amount of that Eastern European penchant for despondency into the contemporary black metal hum.
Medico Peste present a predominantly mid-paced black metal of dissonant harmonies and plucked, distorted strings supported by immediate, tenacious percussion. 'א: Tremendum et Fascinatio' applies faster sections and blasted interludes that are timely and dauntless, but suffer from repetition. Before monotony sets in, however, proceedings often switch to more upbeat rhythmic patterns that surprise.
The band are sonically similar in ways to Sektemtum and Shining (Swe) in their exhibition of black metal-laced, darkened rock motifs, but these are progressively shattered by smatterings of blast beats and an overriding sense of mental illness. Medico Peste’s material is incredibly tight and the use of martial percussion in parts adds further precision to proceedings.
As well as nods to the aforementioned French practitioners, there exist references to Hell Militia, Rêx Mündi, Blut Aus Nord and even the endlessly impressive Deathspell Omega – especially in the title track.
What becomes clear early is that the real emphasis here is on the creation of an atmosphere, and it is that that Medico Peste conjure effortlessly. It is not long before images of sickness, dust-caked, filth-smeared halls and bandaged, rotting limbs begin to materialise, doubtlessly aided by the excellent lyrics, artwork, and design, all rendered by the band themselves.
An album recorded, mixed and mastered at No Solace studio by the now legendary M of Mgła fame would seemingly already have a lot to offer before even the most brief of listens, but as it happens, it may have been M’s expert touch that added just one layer of polish too much to this offering. At times, the clarity of this recording detracts from the aura and tension that the instruments have worked so hard to construct; it is too much perfume on a first date, perhaps.
As a result, there is a lack of aggression in the instrumentation, overall. It is the vocalist’s gurgled, mid-level growl, often descending to a miserable wail that allows this record to stand out and recommend itself. The vocal performance is unnervingly impassioned and is sprinkled with impressive, clean vocal sections that lend a real seriousness and haunting dedication to Medico Peste’s output.
In essence, 'א: Tremendum et Fascinatio' is a bold and focused introductory statement that Medico Peste can revise and refine for later efforts, most probably with devastating results.
Originally posted to http://polymerpulpit.blogspot.ie/
I really do like the way some black metal bands are developing this style, into something truly evil, sinister and disturbing. The times, when this genre was considered to be nothing more, but just raw and primitive are long gone; now the bands are able and dare to explore many different sounds and influences, what results with some truly astonishing releases. And when I listen to such albums as Medico Peste’s debut CD “א: Tremendum et Fascinatio”, then I’m again very impressed, especially if I realize that this is a debut full length, predeceased only by one demo release… Damn, not bad for such relatively new coming band!
I guess someone may say that Medico Peste do not discover anything new really and sure, they would be right, but even if there are some bands, which play similar sort of music, then they are relatively small in numbers. I guess those Poles must be mainly influenced by some French bands, as they try to create similar atmosphere and do so with such uncommon sounds. If I mention Hell Militia, Antaeus, Merrimack, just to say few, then it may give you some idea. Then obviously one could mention some Swedish hordes (some similarities to Shining?), as well as Polish Kriegsmaschine and maybe even Mayhem from some of their recent recordings… Well, what do you think then? Medico Peste first of all concentrates on creating a deep, utterly possessing and involving atmosphere and for that they often use almost ambiental or neoclassical fragments and the riffs may not necessarily be just typical fast and straight ahead bulldozers, but rather slow or mid paced, often sounding creepy as hell and it seems like Medico Peste do not rush themselves, but takes time, concentrating on their instrumental passages to get the most thrilling result. OK, they do blast here and there also, some parts are fuckin fast (!), but the balance between them and the atmospheric moments is like 30 to 70, I guess, so the slow, misanthropic playing prevails, but do not dominate over the whole CD, which is good, otherwise it could have been quite boring.
And if there’s something, what “א: Tremendum et Fascinatio” is not, then it is not a boring album, even if it tends to be slightly monotonous here and there…. Also a small impression of lacking a bit of aggression or devastation comes few times. Still, there are so many things going on here; starting with quite experimental and diverse vocal parts, which sound like were performed by a bigger number of people and often run away from the typical black metal harsh shriek towards more ghoulish or spoken voices. And musically such song as “The Great Ilumination” is almost doomy, it may be the slowest song of all, but it does create almost sort of religious ambience (hmm, some riffs and vocals reminds me almost the sort of doomy death bands like Autopsy!), while “Livid” brings almost post metallic resemblances (with the way the guitars play and build the tension) before it finally blasts the hatred out with the incredible strength. And then again “Thanksgiving” slowly crawls in melancholy until it bursts furiously in the ending part. This is what Medico Peste is like. Nothing is predictable and obvious here.
While listening to “א: Tremendum et Fascinatio” I sometimes start to wonder how would this material sound live. I mean this music is destined to be rather listened at home, from the CD or LP (which will be released a bit later), so the listener can swallow the sounds and get possessed by them, rather than to bang your head and drink beer, while sweating among the jumping monkeys around you, if you know what I mean. But from the other hand, if Medico Peste will do everything right and manage to recreate the atmosphere from the album with the proper “show” (if this word fits this band?) then it could be truly blood freezing. Time will tell, now I can only advise you to get “א: Tremendum et Fascinatio” and contemplate it fully, as this is truly an interesting and intriguing album, one which stands above many similar black metal releases. I’m very glad that the Polish scene got yet another killer black metal act; our scene really becomes one of the best around the globe! Recommended!
Standout tracks: “Thanksgiving”, “I Wither Without Your Grace”