Victim Path - _Surrounded by Pain_
(Possession Productions, 2012)
by: Chaim Drishner (8 out of 10)
Another fine band from Belarus, showcasing another altered state of musicianship charged with lunacy and bleak sonic vistas; however, the band's debut _Surrounded by Pain_ is not a musical product that will easily be swallowed, and that's an understatement. I've been hooked on this album for quite some time, trying to figure out its appeal and extreme left field beauty, and still it mesmerises me with its many qualities and its virtually impenetrable, extreme unfriendliness.

And extreme it is, every faculty of it; leaving the listener breathless and in awe -- or the other way around, laughing their asses off -- for the vocals are exceptionally goofy; how goofy? Silencer's _Death - Pierce Me_ goofy, that's how goofy they are. Arguably the epitome of despair and pain or the crest of comedy, you choose. While listening to _Surrounded by Pain_ I did not laugh, or joke around: the music is too harsh and unrelenting; the guitars too heavy to what the habitual black metaller out there is accustomed; the sonic plot too thick and the melodies too malevolent (yet utterly beautiful) to be taken lightly, or for granted. On top of that comes this phenomenal voice of a thousand tortured souls, of a million sufferers, and takes everything a couple of notches beyond the familiar and the orthodox, transfiguring the music into a banshee manifesto, the speech of the damned and the lament of the howling wind.

Using extremely robust playing, that if stripped of all other elements would sound like the compositions of an exceptionally dark death metal album, the Silencer-wise vocals (for lack of a better comparison) are easily the album's focal point, backed up by the fine distorted guitars and simple rhythm section, exposing basic yet effective melodies varying from the blastbeat maelstroms to the slow depressive black metal variants, sharp and edgy and morbid.

The exceptional songwriting and the magnificent riffs have surprised me in that there is not a single weak moment throughout the recording, and the many rhythm changes, pauses, breaks and interludes do bring to mind Bethlehem's signature, as is showcased by their first three albums.

In any case, if you are of the morbid kind, constantly searching for morose yet fine music and are fed up by today's black metal scene for the most part, give this album a chance. It may be initially exhausting, over the top and too much to bear, but once you give it enough time and start to fathom its many qualities, its charm and dark beauty will do the rest. _Surrounded by Pain_ is a morbid album for morbid people, if there ever was one.


(article published 12/5/2013)

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