Smerdead – Во Тьме Лесов

Smerdead
Во Тьме Лесов
Released 12th December 2020
Melodic death metal
Released via Sound Age Productions

Maybe something is lost in translation from the Russian, but I was not 100% sure what to expect from “zombie metal”. The nomenclature alone, however, was enough to pique curiosity. As it turns out, I doubt could have successfully predicted the sound.

What Smerdead offer is surprisingly melodic, given the brutal sounding, self-applied genre tag. Yes, it is heavy. However, it is most definitely not the knuckle-dragging, caveman variety of metal I imagined would greet me. Given my Russian language skills are absolute zero, I have no idea what frontman, Kozlodyor, is on about. One might assume the undead..? He is, though, a superb death metal vocalist, and his timbre is very easy on the heavy music ear.

The rest of the crew counter this with a highly accessible extreme metal backdrop. As a relatively new band, formed only in 2018, they are a completely fresh discovery for me. Во тьме лесов is, though, the second album of their short career, and it seems they have hit on a trademark “gallop and grunt” from day one. It’s well written, nicely produced, and deserves some widespread attention.

There is something of their sound which is particular to colder regions of the world. As much as they draw on traditional British metal, one can also feel a tundra-esque sway, and, at times, it can be a little like the music of the Steppes. It is, though, always metal, never drifting too far into the twee.

This is maybe what Skámöld would sound like, if their folk elements were to be extracted. Or if Týr ditched their clean singing in favour of a deadite snarl. Their slightly alien aspect allows for a little more escapism than the norm in metal, but doesn’t get too outlandish. This is a band who already know exactly who they are, and show great potential at a very early stage. Keep an eye on them.

7/10

Paul Macmillan

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