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Dealing out darkness and death in energetic blackened raw punk style - 72%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, May 2nd, 2021
Written based on this version: 2020, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Iranian two-man black metal wrecking crew Lavizan Jangal, naming themselves after a popular recreational park and reserve in northeast Tehran as a sarcastic play on Norwegian black metallers Carpathian Forest's name, dish out some vicious and sharp blackened raw punky mayhem on this, their fourth album, the title of which translates into English as "Darkness and Death". These fellers do not beat around the bush (ha! - I bet there are plenty of bushes to beat around in the real Lavizan Jungle Park) but throw their audiences into the thick of the dense sonic and thrashy violence on opening track "Lavizan Jangal": jangly churning chainsaw guitars, spinning blast-beat synth drumming and the most histrionic and extreme vocal performances this side of your average maniac underground French BM band all clash and combine into a devastating baptism of fire for listeners new to the duo's view of Tehran and Iran as a dysfunctional and oppressive theocracy.

After this cacophonous introduction which fair cleans out anything resembling order between your ears, these guys keep going with even more insane blackened brutality with "Be Sooye Marg", a choppy grinderama of cutting guitar mayhem, stuttery trash drumming and even more demented multi-vocal chaos. Tracks following after may slow down a bit and start to resemble a mix of blackened death and even doom but they always carry the threat of going completely bonkers (which they nearly always do).

As the album continues, the musicians start experimenting with ambience and mood - "Dar Ghalbe Poochi" is an all-ambient piece of sinister urban atmosphere with solo guitar and spoken-word recordings and "1399 HS" sounds like a snippet of a long symphonic war metal soundtrack - in amongst the noisy shrill chainsaw guitar torture and deranged shrieking on most songs. The band is at its weakest on the despairing doom number "Amade Bash" which goes on too long, the vocals becoming a cartoony and indulgent parody of their earlier derangement and suffering.

The album goes out on an energetic blackened raw punk high and I'm left with an impression of a band whose musical ambitions and willingness to experiment with its music probably far exceed what their instruments and the recording facilities they have to use are capable of. The music probably deserves a stronger and heavier sound, though the raw sharpness of the guitars suits the band's vision of Iran as an open-air prison / asylum sickening its people with Islam or at least a narrow-minded interpretation of Islam. The first half of the album is energetic, aggressive and impassioned as Lavizan Jangal blast their way through the songs and through your mind. They do try hard, maybe too hard, to bring in elements that vary their music - some ambient, some doom, some atmospheric war music - and the early energy and aggression fade away a bit, leaving the overdone vocal histrionics to dominate in "Amade Bash".

The music might sound too thin and trashy and the vocals can be too strained and exaggerated for listeners but for a band living and working under harsh restrictions and conditions Lavizan Jangal have done well to get as far as they have with four albums portraying modern urban Iran as they see it. Experimenting with their music under the restrictions the band and other extreme metal bands in Iran suffer demonstrates Lavizan Jangal's commitment to their art and vision even if some of those experiments don't succeed or fall a bit flat. The struggle and the failures that come with it as well as the successes are what the journey towards a better world is all about.