Smorzando - Smrad

Smorzando - Smrad - 5/5

One of the many Black Metal bands that I was introduced to by Adam in the last few weeks and, in accordance with what I have come to expect, one of the better albums that I have heard in my life. This Swiss Black Metal/Ambient act is one of the more unique that I have come across and has an equally obscure and unique sound. Smrad is the band`s first album to be released and, hell, was it a good one.

The first thing that draws attention on the album is the low-fi production. It is very muffled, not to the level of being unintelligible, but to an extent that it has that underground feel that many Black Metal listeners seem to yearn for. It gives a very "raw" impression in that it sounds unprocessed and this contributes to the overall success of this release. This is music stripped to the bare bones, with no pretentious wankery to spoil the raw emotional value of this masterpiece.

This is not to say, however, that the musicianship has the same low quality that the production has. One gets the impression that the bandmember(s) (I couldn`t find out how many bandmembers there are) are very competent musicians, never neglecting the music for a second. The guitar has a sweeping, speedy brilliance to it, powering the inevitable onslaught of the music in gusts of tremelo fury punctuated by more "unorthodox" sequences where the guitars can suddenly be used to create a sound similair to that of a mandolin or keyboard and then, just as abruptly, the more "basic" tremelo riffs take over again, the trasition feeling always natural and well-timed.

The drums never feel forced, as is the case in many Black Metal bands, but rather form a very steady base for the music to expand upon. My only complaint is that the production has rendered the drums almost inaudible at times, but that is only a minor complaint as the overall impression is left almost untouched.

Effects are also very aptly used to convey particular emotions, for instance the gloomy effect of the muffled speech in the final song. Keyboards can also be heard in some sequences, creating a doom-ridden ambience that begs tears from even the most apathetic of listeners. Then there`s the vocals: not spectacular, but ideal in every regard. Evil-sounding, despairing screeches provide the perfect narrative "cherry on top" to the deeply emotional structure of the songs on "Smrad" and, even though you cannot hear what the vocalist is saying, you get the impression that you grasp every word of it.

I rarely encounter an album this close to perfection, but this album is everything that Black Metal ought to be: painful, emotional, sad, loud, passionate and bloody fantastic.


Adam L. said…
Great review, man. This was actually the next one I was thinking of writing. Glad you enjoyed the album! The vocals were actually part of what I admired most about the album - I think they tied it together perfectly, and added to the very chaotic and obscure sound that this album has. Awesome stuff, and I can't wait for further releases from this band.