Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cvinger - Monastery of Fallen

Picture a Mustang Cobra with flames gracelessly adorning the sides. It's pretty tacky, but still badass enough be tolerable. Now remove the Mustang’s engine from your mental image and suddenly things aren’t so tolerable - you now have a solid grasp on how Cvinger’s works as a band. They have all the style, body, and framework for really excellent aggressive black metal, but the band can’t move anywhere because there is no power. The notes in the riffs never seem to lead to anywhere, but merely linger around the same pitches without noticeably raising or falling. Drums crash with relentless violence, but without ever feeling like they are driving forward. Every moment of music clamors for your attention creating a clashing white noise like countless screaming sports fans at a game, no individual has any character of its own. No riff is memorable. The band also fails to understand how contrasting rests or tempo changes within a song can make faster parts sound all the more aggressive. A rare and perhaps the sole exception to this can be heard in about two minutes into the titular track “Monastery of Fallen” where a slower section with a trilled note really emphasizes the fairly unrelated speed that immediately follows it. Overall though, the music is just far too monotonous. What’s also completely missing from this EP is that special feeling you get when listening to metal, where you absolutely need the next note to happen because the riffs simply command it to. Cvinger never achieves this momentum, so all we are left with is the facade of aggressive black metal - speed, but its empty, bloated, and hamstrung.

The most accurate comparison I can think of would be a bloated, “modern”, and watered down version of Zyklon-B’s “Blood Must Be Shed” but perhaps a more recognizable way to convey the same idea would be to just mention Marduk. That too may be overly generous. Essentially, Cvinger is fast but doesn’t have much else going on, this mustang is mostly a one-trick pony. But there is another major problem here, the one-trick pony ponderously gazes into the mirror and becomes somewhat self-aware of its limitations. It thinks “I know I am a fast pony, but deep in my horse heart I also know that there is more to me than that. I am a sophisticated pony.” The musical side-effects of this equine introspection are severely out of place interjections of Gregorian chants and sloppy acoustic guitar breaks titled as “Chapter[s]”. In an undisguised attempt to sound varied, the band ends up bloating the EP’s sense of speed, which also kills the bulk of the band’s identity. With around 20 minutes of music this bloat takes up around 5 minutes, a substantial blow to pacing that is further amplified by the fact that the intro and outro tracks are both devoid of metal. Clearly there is nothing wrong with trying to vary music and break up the pacing of an album to be more interesting, but this is not the way to go about it because the band still sounds monotonous. Firstly, the filler tracks are so musically unrelated to the heavier party that they serve only so disconnect the EP. Secondly, these tracks suffer from the same songwriting problems as the other songs, no sense of direction or power. “Chapter 2 Of Ashes and Dust” is a very glaring example of this. While that song’s stripped down acoustic melody may be stylistically different from most of the music, its simplicity provides an obvious reminder of the Cvinger’s weaknesses as a whole - the band needs a songwriter.

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