Forming in 2017, the mysterious Belarusian entity known as PA VESH EN promptly built a formidable discography, all under the aegis of IRON BONEHEAD. But after nine total records during its first three years of existence (including two albums) which explored the fringe elements of DSBM, it was 2021’s full-length Maniac Manifest where the otherwise-unnamed mainman began to open up his black metal to wider, wilder possibilities. Still emphatically embodying the sound of total and utter emptiness, PA VESH EN showed a startling violence that only deepened his characteristic chasm of uncomfort.
Suitably, silence followed for once, but surely PA VESH EN was restless behind those shadows, brewing his most unsettling record yet – and so it arrives with Martyrs. Split into three acts, Martyrs bears some aesthetic/thematic resemblances to the shocking French-Canadian film of the same name, but as the opening gambit of “A Vigilian Impending Murk” and “The House of Pain” quickly proves, PA VESH EN is operating on an entirely different wavelength. That wavelength surely carries forward the undulating violence of its predecessor – rippling, roiling, and nearly bestial, with just as much (if not more) muscle to spare – but as Martyrs plays on and that violence begins to reverberate upon itself, ghostly textures arise from that murk and take on new, undead life. Are they synths? Church bells? Actual disembodied voices? Who can say, really… Truly, PA VESH EN has taken to that far-more-Alpha surge brazenly displayed on Maniac Manifest, but here deftly (and densely) layers his creations with a swarm of sounds that seemingly come from every direction, which becomes all the more disorienting and disturbing when the tempos begin to accelerate and disintegrate at will. And survive long enough into Martyrs and one will hear the Belarusian loner’s melodicism rend the saddest notes from a still-bleeding heart…and an ethereal female voice bringing the album to a climactic close.
If one’s conception of PA VESH EN is still based upon the band’s earlier works, then Martyrs will provocatively – and irrevocably – rearrange those coordinates, and those of your very soul.
Iron Bonehead (Germany), 2023.