"some music was meant to stay underground..."

J.W. Pozoj - "Birth of Pozoj" (CD)

J.W. Pozoj - "Birth of Pozoj" CD cover image

"Birth of Pozoj" track listing:

1. Bellum Omnium Contra Omnes (33:51)
2. Queen Emeraldas (20:45)

Reviewed by on July 2, 2011

"Approaching the music more as a continuously moving journey than a collection of separate tracks, Croatia’s J.W. Pozoj knows how to keep an album solidly flowing with both power and atmosphere while taking long treks into ambient territory."

Without the staples of blast beats, non-stop screams, and fast guitar playing, can a black metal album still hold a listener’s attention? The answer provided by “Birth of Pozoj” isn’t just a yes, but a resounding “Hell yes!” Approaching the music more as a continuously moving journey than a collection of separate tracks, Croatia’s J.W. Pozoj knows how to keep an album solidly flowing with both power and atmosphere while taking long treks into ambient territory.

The predecessor to “Escape of Pozoj” (reviewed here), and first in the “Pozoj” trilogy of albums, was re-recorded for release through Code666, and the sound quality is noticeably a step up. Whereas “Escape of Pozoj” was consistently abrasive, “Birth…” has a significantly cleaner sound, although there are still plenty of gurgled hell screams to be found. Most of the remaining rough edges have been wiped out, and the album easily stands out as a professional release that doesn’t suffer from many of the production problems typical to bands this deep in the underground.

The band may be classified as black metal or extreme metal, but words like “organic” and “fluid” really offer the best glimpse into what sort of music to expect on “Birth of Pozoj.” The two massive tracks making up the album, at 31 and 25 minutes apiece, are constantly moving and growing, and never stick to one lone idea or sound. Strong contrasts between sounds are the norm, with plenty of strange takes on standard metal elements. Each segment builds up and then releases, rather than sticking to prolonged bouts of the same basic themes.

The vocal delivery is as varied as the music, with a good deal of screams torn straight from the vocalist’s throat for a disturbing sound. Impassioned clean vocals come in frequently, which are occasionally over the top, but still fit the music nearly perfectly. The explosion of maniacal growled laughter towards the middle of “Queen Emereldas” is just bat-shit crazy, and it totally works.

“Birth of Pozoj” may seem a bit daunting with its two huge tracks of absurd length, but the music flows so well that the trip is easily worth taking for any fan of gloomy metal that goes way, way off the beaten path. J.W. Pozoj effortlessly shifts between big booming death metal drums, cold and atmospheric black metal, symphonic and ambient sections, and upbeat and more traditional metal styles. Most amazing of all, the band somehow makes it all fit into a single track. The album is one of the unknown gems of the underground, and could easily make plenty of “best of” lists at the end of the year if it managed to get the exposure it deserves.

Highs: Completely fluid and organic sound that combines hellish black metal with gloomy ambience

Lows: The album probably could have been broken out into multiple songs without losing much.

Bottom line: An underground gem that takes a black metal base and morphs into a free-flowing ambient and symphonic journey.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)