Propast- “Věstnik Preispodnji”


When I first started this website, I set a goal to write about things that pushed the boundaries of black metal forward while still pleasing the tastes of purists and diehard fanatics. Lately I haven’t received much in the way of cold, wrathful black metal that makes the hairs on my neck stand on end. When Propast‘s Věstnik Preispodnji showed up in the mail last week, I reconnected with something that I feel has been missing from this site, or at least not appearing often enough. If you’re into the filthy Eastern European black metal of the late nineties onward, then this offering of Serbian darkness will make your pulse race.

The first thing that needs to be said is that this isn’t the oft-parodied lo-fi grimness that tends to discredit the legitimately fascinating music of many bands I’d liken to Propast. Whether it’s the admittedly (unintentionally?) comical videos from Maniac Butcher or Master’s Hammer, or the easily mocked (but truly brilliant) sewer-fixated black metal of Stíny Plamenů, a lot of great bands become known more for gimmick or jokes than for the incredible sounds they create. Whether it’s due to lack of visual presence or an intentional mystique, Propast have the same throat-slitting precision and fury of many of their peers without any of the room for laughs. This is deadly black metal at its finest.

Propast tape , insert, & sticker

If the artwork alone doesn’t make it obvious, this is no-frills perfection. Following a brief introduction, the opening salvo of “…u Plamenu” makes a bold and sincere statement of intent. Drummer Aksinomantijan’s work is constant, with a decidedly human touch to it, showing a heavy degree of actual thought rather than basic blasting to fill the background, while guitars and vocals are in the highly capable hands of Kasapin. These two manage to create a fullness of sound and deceptively suffocating atmosphere in a way that many larger bands would struggle to realize. The vocals are practically inhuman, somewhere between the shrill shrieks that are more common in depressive black metal and the throaty rasps of more traditional black metal. This aspect alone creates a ferocity that is often absent from modern black metal releases. When combined with the balance of drums and skillful, textured guitar lines that often straddle the line between dangerous and harmonious, this feels like a ride over the edge of the chasm and through the labyrinthine depths of Hell. While the booklet is filled with lyrics, I’ll admit that my knowledge of Serbian is nonexistent and I can’t even type half the characters to seek out a translation if I wanted to. Regardless, there is a fiery determination to the band’s energy and for some reason I imagine most of this played in some sort of subterranean location, whether a cave, sewer, or at the earth’s very core. With only two tracks on each side (excluding the intro track), this tape runs approximately thirty minutes, leaving me wishing for more, especially considering the fact that the album closes with a (well executed) Graveland cover. The three originals are some of the most compelling black metal I’ve heard in ages and I’m ready to wager that whatever comes next from Propast will garner even more attention.

This tape’s limitation of 198 copies seems to me to be far too few, although it hasn’t sold out yet. Take heed and obtain a copy directly from the group’s bandcamp or from Misanthropic Intolerance while they’re still in stock. Downloads from the bandcamp are free, but it’s about twelve dollars with shipping to the USA , which is well worth it for one of the most excellent tapes I’ve heard in a while. Plus, it even comes with a sticker that you can use to spread the word and impress all your friends. Current US distribution is handled through Caligari Records, so snag it from there while you’re able. This kind of black metal seems to always hit the spot for me, so if members of any similar groups read this, get in touch with me. I could use more stuff like this in my life, and so could my readers.