Do Skonu – Hell (2016)

What is it that one means when they use a geographical association to describe a piece of music? North American death metal and its subsets, Norwegian black metal as opposed to Finnish black metal, and then further beyond that ambit, South American black metal. And so on. Regional denominations are a convenient way of bracketing styles within the greater genre. Originators react to their environment and their inner impulse, and lay down a template which, for better or worse, is adhered to with diligence by successors. Over time, whole regions come to be represented by a peculiar sound, and the relationship between the material and the immaterial becomes ossified. Naturally, there are outliers during this process, personalities incapable of conforming to what everyone else around them is doing, but even so, these islands of individuality and protest lie few and far between. And even they can’t help betraying to some minor degree the artifacts of the place they come from.

There is something palpably Slavic about Do Skonu‘s Hell, what with regular black metal tropes frequently tailing off into slivers from the Eastern folk tradition. The foregoing postulation in this case would imply this band’s sound to be influenced by regional torchbearers like Root, Master’s Hammer, Graveland, and Nokturnal Mortum. Tempos are uniformly magisterial, not dissimilar to what countrymen Khors achieved on their first two albums. Thematically rich, single lines of melody dance against an insinuative wash of rhythm, dramatized with the kind of showmanship which has long been the hallmark of Root. Savagery as generally understood may be in scarce supply here, but a certain narrative calculation and coldness certainly isn’t. Do Skonu achieve a lot in a short running time, and it is a testament to their composing prowess that their unassuming template presents and develops ideas with such clarity, conviction, and consistency.

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