Release Date: 29th November 2019
Label: Transcending Obscurity
Genre: Black Metal / Hardcore
Black Metal and Hardcore, for the most part, never cross streams. This is quite understandable when you consider their disparate audiences and wildly different value systems. However, a plucky Croatian three-piece by the name of Bednja have found harmony in the dissonance with their stunning debut Doline Su Ostale Iza Nas.
Released through Indian up-and-comers Transcending Obscurity in a time where Metal feels more at odds with itself than ever, what makes this record so brilliantly unique is difficult to place. Unashamedly Black Metal at its core but eschewing any sense of pretense or predictability, Bednja´s brand of audible anguish feels human and distinctly Punk in its execution. Despite sounding like a log wrapped in barbed-wire rolling down a hill, there is a shifting melodic sensibility in this band reminiscent of Metalcore godfathers Converge, pulling what could easily become tremolo dirge into a uniquely powerful listening experience. The windswept catharsis expressed on tracks like ‘Ledena Palaca’ and ‘Tisina Je Smrt’ leans away from the theatrical excess of Immortal towards something more earthy, grimy and yes…moshpit friendly – the latter containing Black Metal´s first breakdown (?). It would be easy to draw musical comparisons to Denmark’s Hexis, but instead of blasting pure crusty bile, the Croatians’ musicianship feels more fluid, restlessly tinkering with weight, texture and emotion in ways that feel truly invigorating.
Much like the latest releases from Alcest and Misþyrming, the very best of Black Metal sucks the listener into a world that feels all-encompassing and disorientating. Doline Su Ostale Iza Nas taps into this perfectly. As the album zips by, songs seven minutes in length begin to feel immediate and constantly engaging without relying on tedious repetition to bulk out the runtime. The duel vocal attack trades high shrieks for devastating roars while a quietly brilliant drum performance of Petar Babić lifts this dark, swirling maelstrom to another level with elastic flair. In the stunning ‘Povratak Kralja’, he weaves himself effortlessly between hyperactive blasts, skank-beats and tactful grooves in a way that feels as seamless as the musicianship around him, connecting the dots between Poison The Well, Neurosis and early Darkthrone with unsettling ease.
In a year already stocked full outstanding Black Metal, Bednja have carved out a niche in the truest sense of the term. What remains exciting, however, is the possibilities of development that this band could take moving forward. In a genre that often struggles to evolve, Doline Su Ostale Iza Nas has the potential to give the scene a fresh perspective on what is accepted in this style. If you are in any way interested in challenging and emotive underground music in 2019, then you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t give Bednja a chance to cast their spell.
Recommended Track: ´Tisina Je Smrt´