Johann Wolfgang Pozoj - Birth of Pozoj
Aural Music/Code666
Black Metal/Post-Rock
2 songs (54:34)
Release year: 2011
Johann Wolfgang Pozoj, Aural Music/Code666
Reviewed by Charles
This is the first time I’ve ever heard an album referred to as ‘mystical symfocrust’, but code666 certainly has a way of piquing the interest on its promotional material. Actually, Johann Wolfgang Pozoj (a name which takes three impenetrable paragraphs to explain in one interview), from Croatia, are not a wholly new band to me. I rather enjoyed a few tracks off 2009’s Escape of Pozoj, an intriguing meshing of energetic, crusty black metal with post- and ambient ideas. As the name implies, Birth of Pozoj is not the follow-up but its predecessor, originally self-released as the band’s debut but now re-arranged and re-recorded for its new label.

Despite the remaking (which has cut about 15 minutes off the original release’s running length) this still sounds a lot like a debut album. It’s over fifty minutes long and divided into only two tracks; length is hardly unusual in the realms of post-black metal, but brevity rarely goes amiss. The first few minutes of Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes are cause for apprehension, with the band almost immediately drifting off into dreamy walking-pace post-rock, sadly lacking in the kind of well-executed charm possessed by bands like Alcest or Todtgelichter. It gets much better as it gets heavier. The band musters some admirably surly riffing that invokes the crusty likes of Amebix; clunking patterns which rarely accelerate but instead trudge at a sullen but determined mid-tempo. This sits quite nicely alongside the frequent diversions into cleaner noodling, a sort of fragrant soup with jagged lumps of root vegetable in it. The primitive stage we find the band at (Birth…), though, suits the harsh bits whilst lacking the craftsmanship for the flowery passages. At 33 minutes the track feels too long, but there are sections which really gel effectively. At about 23 minutes, for example, the band breaks right down into a near-silent synth and drum patter, which develops with upmost cohesion up and down dynamic slopes and crags, in the kind of manipulation of intensity that the best post-metal strives for. Too bad that after half an hour they couldn’t think of a better way to end the song than on a fade-out!

Second track Queen Emeraldas is a bit more exciting, though. The riffing is more aggressive, often adopting a faster, harsher tone influenced by bands at the weirder end of the black metal spectrum- perhaps Fleurety or Ved Buens Ende spring to mind. The vocals are great; this deep, sarcophagus moan, and the instrumentation becomes a bit more proactive, with vicious interplay between the exuberant drumming and newly-unleashed guitar. Neoclassical organ fills start to parp away in the background approaching the ten-minute mark, giving the sound a slightly unhinged Deep Purple-gone-black feel. The second half of the track, though, just seems to wind down listlessly into long stretches of fairly tedious post-rock noodling.

Birth of Pozoj, then, is a promising debut which will likely be eclipsed once the band re-records their second album, Escape of Pozoj, and unveils their third (this is, apparently, intended to be a trilogy). For those who have not tired of the post-black scene and are interested in a more European take on a sound increasingly dominated by North American acts, this is well worth hunting down and taking note of.

Killing Songs :
Queen Emeraldas
Charles quoted 70 / 100
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