Snøgg – Dan, ko je vrag vzel šalo


Slovenian black metal duo, Snøgg, received praise for their 2020 album, Ritual of the Sun, including an enthusiastic review from SBR. We marvelled at the time how ‘it’s impossible to escape the sly grasp of the ambient doom drones forcing the listener to lose all sense of time and being.’ For their latest release, they present us with a twenty-minute song in the vein of a black metal opera with five vocalists and a viola. Multi-instrumentalist, Ulv, based his work on the nineteenth century Slovenian novel, Deseti brat, by Josip Jurčič, although you’d think this was Dante’s Seventh Circle judging by the sinister music. Snøgg are here to push boundaries just when you thought black metal could not get any more experimental.

There’s no reason to be intimidated by the running time of this one-track EP, although you have every reason to be scared by its intro. Evil doom metal chords ache among a pageantry of fluttering violas and dramatic drum accents with threatening incantations of voice. The promo shot for this record shows two robed men hiding beneath their ecclesiastical cloaks and brandishing primitive threshing tools. You wouldn’t follow a public footpath through their farm even if the sign gives you right of way. This is hostile art, yet they slip into a quieter passage of melodic guitar picking and bowed strings before we reach the two-minute mark. Don’t bother to recalibrate your senses – they’re already ploughing through a Bathory assault of primitive metal while you’re making the adjustment. And those blast beats that erupt after four minutes like a train about to derail at full speed… Jesus! Opera would be much more fun if it promised to annihilate the audience in this manner. Forget about tissues, you need body bags during the mid-section of Dan, ko je vrag vzel šalo.

Emperor fans will admire the multitude of tempo changes, and followers of Thy Catafalque will also find a spiritual home here. This is your chance to experience brass and black metal with the most blood-soaked vocal inflections known to Hannibal Lector. Maybe chianti is on the menu at this opera. Check out the exciting piece of palm-muted death & roll leading up to the twelve-minute threshold. It’s like Midnight copulating with Sodom. You’d have the perfect avant-garde metal composition if it ended here.  But it doesn’t…

Hands up if you’ve ever sat through the last song of Ministry’s Psalm 69 album more than once. You’ll know the meaning of this question when you hear the remaining seven minutes of evil intonations and white noise terror. A bass guitar threatens to reignite the drums and regular chord patterns, but nothing materialises. Instead, Snøgg aim to asphyxiate you in harsh static and triumphalist violence. It’s like a jet plane experiencing engine failure in the moment before it makes a nosedive into the ocean.

Whether an act of self-sabotage or an attempt at creating the finest in post-apocalyptic art, the ending loses its way and alienates you from what started as an enthralling record. This could have been excellent, but it’s too proud in its destruction and too enamoured with the brimstone and fire effect. It’s good, but it had the potential to be extraordinary.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 04/03/2022

Record Label: Self Released

Suggested Further Listening: Sea Mosquito – Fire, Magic & Venom (2021), Rorcal – Creon (2016), Mora Prokaza – By Chance (2020)