Review by Vladimir on June 4, 2023.
Well, I guess it’s time for some Serbian black metal, and today I’ll be covering the band Oskrnavitelj from Belgrade, which released their debut album Pradavni on June 3rd as an independent Bandcamp release. Plenty of people in the Serbian metal scene were waiting patiently for this album to be released, even since the band’s first gigs in 2021, but eventually the album entered a “development hell” after some lineup changes, album recording schedules and troubles when looking for a proper label to be released on. Luckily the band finally managed to finish this album and have it released on a full moon night for the world to hear. Let’s see if Oskrnavitelj’s debut is a worthy “desecrator” in the Serbian black metal catalog.
The album starts off with an intro track, consisted of ambient sounds such as rainfall, thunder and wolves howling, building up the grim atmosphere that awaits. The songwriting follows the standard black metal pattern throughout the entire album, mostly made of tremolo picking riffs, shrieking harsh vocals and fast Darthrone style drumming, although the drums do occasionally switch to double-bass drumming and even mid-tempo drumming which can be heard on 'Kad Je Mesec Pun'. Besides the drums, even the vocal style changes on 'Prognanik' and 'Hladno Runo Planina', switching from the consistent harsh singing to a soothing narrative style. The riffs in general aren’t really that dynamic but rather very one-dimensional, because they sound very similar from one track to another from the applied constant tremolo picking. The style does suddenly change to mid-tempo riffing during a mid-section interlude 'Vagrob', which after a while quickly switches back to tremolo picking. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any moments of good tremolo riffs, there are quite solid examples to be heard on 'Prognanik', 'Kad Je Mesec Pun', 'Krv Vučija' and 'Vagrob' that managed to captivate to a certain degree. My biggest issue isn’t so much that the riffs are constantly tremolo picking, but it’s the fact that there isn’t a single memorable riff that really makes a song stand out. Another issue is that the vocals sound a bit thin, but it has nothing to do with the vocal performance by Ivana Savić, who has years of experience from previously singing in bands such as Kramp, Sakramentum, Soul In Cage etc. The general problem here is that the vocals are pushed far back from the rest, even with all the added reverb to make it sound as if it’s being a distant scream from the woods. Production-wise, it sounds overall very solid, the guitar tone is raw but not overly thin, though as I’ve previously said, the vocals may be the weakest link in the album’s mix and master.
Pradavni is not exactly an album that you could get yourself totally immersed in, but it does provide a solid performance which is passable to an extent of certain satisfaction. The overall output is something that in style resembles a standard 90’s black metal release, yet it doesn’t quite manage to express a genuine feeling which is something that this album is missing. Although they do show some potential, I’d say that Oskrnavitelj is yet to determine their direction in the years to come, because they still need a strong focus on what they want to achieve.
Rating: 6.5 out of 10529