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Persekutor – Permanent Winter

Permanent Winter
by Dan O'Connor at 07 August 2020, 4:42 PM

Ice Metal, huh? Just when you think the family tree of metal had finally finished growing, Romania’s PERSEKUTOR come in to add yet another branch.

It’s a fitting tag. Cold, chilling and callous; the four piece’s debut full album “Permanent Winter" draw from the roots of the genre to create just under 30 minutes of primitive, no nonsense black metal that comes pretty close to evoking a grim sense of the eternal ice age they refer to.

On paper, everything sounds promising. A familiar blend of piercing guitars, rumbling bass and thudding drums that would slot comfortably into any early black metal record from the likes of VENOM and CELTIC FROST are combined with some occasional stand out guitar melodies reminiscent of IRON MAIDEN and THIN LIZZY to create a ‘black n’roll’ sound that’s a lot of fun when implemented correctly.

Sadly, it’s a mixed bag. It seems that a consequence of the record’s arctic climate is that certain tracks that feel nothing but desolate, failing to offer a great deal in terms of creativity or energy. The charismatic howls of vocalist Vlad The Inhaler are sometimes the only thing  providing any semblance of life. These same tracks are also hampered by a glacial pace as they strip black metal back to little more than its bare bones. You don’t need to play at 220 beats per minute to create spine-tingling heavy music (there’s been enough acclaimed doom and drone records in recent memory to attest to that) but there’s simply not enough density in terms of production or stand-out songwriting moments to compensate for the lack of vitality.

These issues are immediately brought to the forefront in an uninspired opener “Babylon Of The Snows.” It’s primitive black metal in its most freezing form. Yes, you’ll feel the chill in the air from the sustained, down-tuned guitars of the intro and the bite of the tremolo-picked chorus riff. However, these feattues are equally as plodding and uninspired, while  the rhythm section fails to provide any momentum. After such a lacklustre moment, you debate sticking around to let the hypothermia set in. Expect more of the same from the record’s two final songs; “Frostquake” and “Black Death Punk Skins.”

Elsewhere, there are peaks and valleys to be found in the six tracks placed in between. Single “Can You Feel The Frost Of Dawn” immediately reignites interest with a speedy, punk tinged opening, drawing from the aforementioned VENOM influences heavily and effectively. It’s short-lived, as the verses and choruses revert back to mid-tempo riffage, albeit with more of a classic heavy metal feel.

Winter’s Meat” continues to elevate things with a truly demonic riff and a comparatively pulsing chorus. Alongside Vlad’s shrieking cries the fate of dead men left in the ground, it’s possibly the closest “Permanent Winter” gets to evoking the sense of an arctic apocalypse but at just 1:54 in length, it’s a somewhat fleeting feeling.

“Ice Wars” and the title track “Permanent Winter” come close to aligning all of PERSEKUTOR’s best elements together. Both songs contain a balanced mix of melodic guitar work and blackened aesthetic, along with well-constructed, memorable choruses. While a lack of pace has been a subjective drawback, the latter track’s tempo change into a slower, more menacing outro is a rare example of broader dynamics that other compositions somewhat lack.

It's possible to argue that PERSEKUTOR have been successful with "Permanent Winter" being the album they very much set out to make. Old-school black metal fans will get plenty of enjoyment from a bewitching vocal performance, guitars full of trebly dissonance and an ice-cold atmosphere that engulfs “Permanent Winter” from start to finish. However, it falls short in a number of areas as it suffers from a lack of aggression, innovation, variety and consistency. The ice is delivered in abundance, but by winter’s end, it begs for some much needed fire.

Songwriting: 6
Musicianship: 5
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

Overall: 5

2 Star Rating

1. Babylon of the Snows
2. Can You Feel the Frost of Dawn
3. Winter's Meat
4. Chained To the Tundra
5. Arctic Cross
6. Ice Wars
7. Permanent Winter
8. Frostquake
9. Black Death Punk Skins
Vlad The Inhaler - Guitar & Vocals
Adam Murray - Bass
Scott Batiste – Drums
Inverted Kriss – Guitars
Record Label: Svart Records


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Edited 02 December 2022

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