Saturday, January 2, 2010

Slavogorje - Vrijeme iza nas EP (2009)

Slavogorje are a Croatian duo that mix neofolk, ambient and post rock elements with a dash of raw, pagan metal for a sound quite unlike most. They've been productive in the half-decade of their existence, releasing some demos, splits and a pair of full-length albums, and have now arrived at their latest, the Vrijeme iza nas EP, a short effort with 3 songs in about 14 minutes. The material is pretty diverse, even for so short a release, and you never quite get the coherent picture. But I would be lax not to admit that they've got a truly original craft dripping with potential. Everything is played by Rugiewit and Isar, from the guitars to the pan flute and jaw harp, there is a lot of acoustic instrumentation.

"U Suton Bogova (A Dusk of the Gods)" is soothing enough, a vocal a capella which lasts about :35 seconds before the tranquil acoustics of "Perun i Ljeto (Perun and the Summer)", soon joined with Slavic whispers and deep percussion as the vocals and glistening guitars combine for neofolk bliss. You can also hear some woodwind within there. The track doesn't really develop much, but it does die out for a more somber moment of pipes and synth-induced ambiance. "Vrijeme iza nas (Time Behind Us)" itself sounds like something Vangelis would have written for Chariots of Fire, only with more drums and raw piano. If Tangerine Dream had a pagan metal guitar player, it might sound like this...and this is where Slavogorje are at their most interesting, dreamy scintillating post-rock with no shame for its electronic waves and pretty, wailing male vocals. The guitar does little more than trudge along with a few chords, but somehow its enough to send your mind racing as to the possibilities this marriage could produce.

It's not easy to recommend Vrijeme iza nas, because it feels a little uneven. "Perun i Ljeto" does not live up to its potential, and while the title track is full of elation, it does become too repetetive for replay value. The intro is just too brief to consider. But Slavogorje are onto something. Granted, that something is hardly metal music, and it hardly needs to be. If they can take some of the strength of the last track and apply it album-wide to their next full-length, with a little more variation, it will be something to behold. Also, I love a good logo, and this band has one.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]

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