Some music is a positive delight to listen to, inspiring joy and wellbeing; other sources, like Belarusian solo project Pa Vesh En seem expressly designed to evoke terror, unease and despair. His most recent release, Maniac Manifest, is a case in point – bleak, desolate and nevertheless an utter triumph of the depressive suicidal black metal (DSBM) art form. Iron Bonehead should thank their stars this prolific and troubled artist graces their roster, delivering some of the most cathartic and complex paeans to melancholia the world has experienced.
There are nods along the way to stalwarts of the genre, combining Lifelover’s absolute nihilism (album opener “Homicidal Sacrifice,” for example) with some rough-and-ready Dissection-esque riffing (“Chamber of the Rotten Flesh”) and flourishes of cold martial ambience a la Limbonic Art in the synth work on “The Black Coffin.” The whole is punctuated with the enigmatic artist’s wails and screeches, themselves exercises in haunted anguish adding another layer of discordant and inhuman suffering to the ensemble.
A full album stream may aid in cementing my impressions.
If I were to isolate a single track from the mélange of grief on display, it would have to be “Conquerentes de Iniqua Nece Confessionem.” This is by no means the most traditional or even the most metal cut on the record, but the looped synths give an added dimension of horror – somewhere between a never-ending spiral staircase and a slowly shrinking escape room – while reinforcing the well-established Pa Vesh En ethos of experimentation and sampling of styles from within the greater spectrum of black metal, not just the atmospheric and depressive. There’s more anger on “Spellbound by the Witchmoon” and far more structure on “The Eyes Full of Horror,” but this track reinforces the old cliché, of the journey outweighing the destination. In this case, the journey taken on Maniac Manifest is one of psychological torture like Argento’s Suspiria, rather than the all-too-human jumpscares of the ADHD generation typified by the likes of The Purge.
Praise aside, Maniac Manifest is not without its small problems: that same experimentation and disregard for structure does make Pa Vesh En less accessible than, say, Watain’s uncompromising frontal assault. Also, a predilection for atmosphere over melody (a trap barely avoided by Caladan Brood or Summoning, and more-than-occasionally sprung by Waldgeflüster) does give a first impression of monotony; but aside from these, I am perfectly happy to keep listening as long as this mysterious composer keeps producing such unhealthy, diseased music. Apart from the comparisons already made, it is worth finishing with a ‘FFO’ note, as Pa Vesh En will undoubtedly appeal to Black Cilice (see here for our review of their last record) or Gryftigaen (see here for that review) fans.
Maniac Manifest Track Listing:
1. Homicidal Sacrifice
2. Eyes Full of Horror
3. Chamber of the Rotten Flesh
4. In the Wood of Hanged Men
5. Conquerentes de Iniqua Nece Confessionem
6. Spellbound by the Witchmoon
7. The Black Coffin
8. Sister of Sin
Run Time: 41:14
Release Date: September 10, 2021
Record Label: Iron Bonehead