Zvijer - Official Website

Pod Balkanskim Noćnim Nebom

Bosnia and Herzegovina Country of Origin: Bosnia and Herzegovina

1. Pod Balkanskim Noćnim Nebom
2. Pulsirajuce Ludilo
3. Sinteza Propasti I Stvaranja
4. Crkve
5. Sin In My Heart
6. Cleanse The Soul
7. Pakao
8. Prazna Raka U Grudima

Review by Fernando on June 3, 2024.

Eastern Europe has always been an interesting region when it comes to extreme music. The various countries that were once part of the Soviet Union are richly historied countries and with wildly different and vast cultures to boot. So it’s no surprise that they also have a very unique perspective when doing black metal. And so, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian barbaric horde Zvijer are a prime example of how wildly different and unique black metal from the Balkans can be.

The band’s most recent release is an EP titled Pod Balkanskim Nocnim Nebom, that was released in 2021 but has been re-released and expanded with more songs by the Mexican label Iron, Blood and Death Corporation in late 2023, does an excellent job of emphasizing the band’s talents, while also serving as a good in-betweener until the band’s next release, while standing on it’s own.

The band definitely play black metal and their style does have some modern leanings, from the clean production, to a focus on groove-laden guitar riffs and bass lines which are also very complex, extensive but subdued use of keyboards and growling vocals. The band certainly have swerved in a more progressive fashion than a lot of their more orthodox contemporaries, however, the band also adds more esoteric elements in their music to keep timeless in the form of traditional Balkan folk music. Aside from the use of keyboards, they also incorporate acoustic instruments, choirs and even violins, while also adding natural ambience in the form of rain, thunder and winds. The band do a really good job at making the songs of this EP dynamic and widescreen, while keeping their unique brand of dark brutality with morose atmospherics, and more impressively, they do so without feeling disjointed, which is astounding, given how on paper, fast groove-oriented black metal wouldn’t mesh with atmospherics, but in here it does.

Furthermore, I can’t sing the technical chops of the band, particularly multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Insanus, as he’s the true MVP of Zvijer, both performance-wise and on production. The individual instruments not only sound good, the music doesn’t sound as it’s been played by a single person, and keep in mind he didn’t start as the sole instrumentalist, and of course, vocalist and lyricist Knjaz also deserves credit. Not only does he shine in his growls and shrieks, but he also gets to flex his clean vocals in the form of glorious chanting and more ominous deep vocals. The duo really compliment each other and have a synergy that a very limited number of adept duos have.

Overall this is an excellent EP, and the added songs keep the same level of quality, as you can hear that the band devote as much time and effort on smaller releases as they do with their full-lengths. But the most standout track for me is their cover of Siouxsie And The Banshees’ ‘Sin In My Heart’. The Banshees are one of my favorite bands so to hear a black metal rendition of any song by them was something I was excited and apprehensive to hear, but to my surprise, the band are able to both honor the original song and band, while making it their own, for one the main guitar riff sounds exactly the same as the original song, but the added guitars and layered vocals sound excellent, as they wisely avoid trying to match the queen mother of goth, Siouxsie Sioux.

So to close off, Zvijer are one of the best examples of Balkan black metal at the moment, and a rare case of a modern black metal band that sounds fresh and unique. My only complaint is how the extra songs, while good in their own right don’t sound as cohesive with the rest of the original EP, but that’s a minor nitpick than anything else.

Rating: 8 out of 10