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Quite repetitive melodic BM but not bad at all - 67%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, October 9th, 2014

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.