Hnus Umirajici
Hnus Umirajici

Skulls? Czech. Wild corpse paint? Czech. Black attire? Czech. Hooded/cloaked member? Czech. Spiked wrist band(s) and/or gauntlets? Czech. Finger claw ring thingy? Czech. Satan as the bands frontman? Czech. Wait…What? That’s right friends, Hnus Umirajici’s frontman/vocalist is apparently the Prince of Darkness himself, or at least according to the band’s press bio. In fact, the whole reason I blindly opted to review the band was the sole purpose of hearing the screeches of the fallen one. Truth be told, I didn’t expect for the Czech Republic band’s self-titled debut to actually be good, but good it is. Damn good in fact.

If the black thrashings of Dark Funeral, Vreid, Enthroned, Rotting Christ, Hypocrisy, Infestus, and Enslaved tickle your metal bone, then you’ll be pleased as Punch with the offerings on Hnus Umirajici. Quality black metal that never really seems to go full on balls out. Yes, there are plenty of blasting and speedier moments to be found on the band’s debut, but most of these moments are wisely countered with control, finesse, and even minimalist attributes. This approach to their songwriting leads to a well developed style and modus operandi that strikes as most impressive for a debut.

Plenty of well crafted tremolo picked riffs and melodies abound within all the album’s tracks, and while none of them are necessarily original, neither are they plagiaristic. There’s definitely a catchiness to the material here, but it does a terrific job at steering it’s course away from mainstream/commercial fields when achieving this aspect. The band lists their brand of extremity as black/doom, though Hnus Umirajici is clearly rooted in the blacker arts. In fact, the doom influences found within some of the tracks are nothing more than emotional and even melancholic shifts within their black metal aesthetic; more akin to Rotting Christ‘s and/or Hypocrisy‘s more slower and affecting dramatic pieces. Having said that, one of the album’s highlights is ironically, the doomier vibed  “Uspech se Neodpoutsi”. Its slower, somber beginnings quickly morph into a crushing melancholy, even featuring a bit of bonafide death moans from the Father of Lies, straying from his normal blackened rasps. The song comes off with a flair of Swallow the Sun, albeit mixed with a Rotting Christ sensibility. While not actually doom, it is about as doomy as these plaguebearers from Prague get.

Another highpoint of Hnus Umirajici is album closer “Maruska”. After a blasting and ferocious beginning, the track takes a more subdued and emotional tone, coming in around the 0:40 second mark, eventually leading into an Extol-ish sounding territory with angular riffing and supportive, yet reined in drumwork. Icy and emotionally evocative  blackness consumes the rest of “Maruska”, with some ardent vocals riding atop some impassioned soloing, showcasing that aforementioned control and finesse that the band and their material possess. Being that all of the lyrical content of Hnus Umirajici is in the band’s native tongue, I have no clue to what any of the songs are actually proclaiming, but I do  know that “Maruska” is about an abused dog, of the same name, that after many years of cruelty, at the hands of her owner, was rescued and given a new and happy life. Not your typical black metal lyrical affair, but one I highly respect as an animal lover and professed “dog person” myself. Funny though, I always figured Satan as a cat owner.

All in all, I have no beef whatsoever with anything about Hnus Umirajici, the band, or the album. The material is good, the performances are good, the production is good, everything gets a Czech and a double-Czech in all the categories so-to speak. I do think that much of the success of the album falls on the shoulders of drummer, Umirace. Not to belittle the other members output in the least, but that earlier spoken of ability of succesful minimalism comes heavily from Umirace’s abiltiy to shuffle the tempo consistently and intelligently without having to fall back on speed and blastbeats as a cover for uncreativity. As for Satan, I’ve poked a little facetious fun at the vocalist’s namesake during this read, but in all honesty, his throat shredding is aces. Typical black metal vocals, but they’re good and get the job done well. I did expect a little more virulency in his performance, I mean it’s Satan for God’s sake, yet the fallen daystar seems to be exactly the right fit for the band’s blackened puzzle(box)…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
June 4th, 2019

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