Saturday, 19 January 2013
Release: 'א: Tremendum et Fascinatio' (2012)
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.