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Dormant imagination wakes - 89%

we hope you die, June 10th, 2021

Black metal isn’t easy. Even dirt simple variants are a challenge to land if one is to avoid presenting an audience with nothing but tedium. But sometimes, every now and then, an act comes along that makes it look so natural and intuitive that one could be fooled into thinking that this is the most accessible form of music going from a player’s perspective.

Serbia’s Cmpt have emerged as if from the soil itself to offer their first EP ‘Mrtvaja’. With little information to go on, right down to the very identity of the musician(s) behind this work, we are left with no proverbial cover to judge this book. The name Cmpt means death, and is a reference to the pre-Christian death cults of the Balkans, which goes some way to flesh out the deeply immersive variant of black metal found across this two track EP.

A comparison could be made to ‘Hvis lyset tar oss’ in the fluidity with which two chord riffs are strung together and elongated with only the slightest of inflections and accents. The drums also switch from blast-beats to galloping rhythms with pounding double bass in a similar way.

All is repetition and swirling, trancelike rhythms on the opener ‘Mrtvaja Part I’. A reverb laden guitar tone works its way through soaring tremolo riffs with subtle yet highly effective synth lines providing harmonies to flesh out the modest musicality behind these melodic threads. Despite their simplicity, everything is placed so deliberately, the arrangement so balanced and taught, that the most minor shift in pitch or melodic direction changes the entire scope and mood of the track.

Cmpt do offer breakdowns and more overtly tritone based riffs, working in some eerie clean vocals to really layer up the foggy atmosphere. But for the most part this EP rides along on fluid and immersive trade-offs between elegantly simple melodic lines, relying on adept arrangements – where to place transitions vs. repetition – to carry these tracks through. This makes the atmospheric flourishes – the understated keyboard lines, the reverb laden clean vocals – welcome but entirely peripheral to the highly streamlined atmospheric black metal on display.

Never one to drop a Burzum comparison lightly, these is one of the few releases where the matchup is worthy and not deployed as a disparagement. ‘Mrtvaja’ does not immediately drip originality, but it embodies that intangible musical quality, scourge of critics due to its existence beyond the verbal remit. Some would call it magic, but it’s really just the sum of compositional qualities expressing that which is beyond words, and awakens dormant areas of the listener’s imagination.

Originally published at Hate Meditations