Do Skonu: Womb of Primeval Darkness (2011 Reissue)

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Do Skonu: Womb of Primeval Darkness (2011 Reissue)
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Do Skonu: Womb of Primeval Darkness
Black Metal
Omega Productions, Forever Plagued Records (2011 Reissue)
August 1st, 2011 / September 23rd, 2011
Release length: 35:19
Womb of Primeval Darkness marks the retitled debut of Ukrainian Black Metal act Do Skonu. Originally a two-piece under the name ForestGrave, which issued a number of demos and various other smaller releases, this incarnation is largely the work of Varagian, who handles the vocals, guitars, and bass of this recording, while “D” handles the session drumming. Originally published through Omega Productions as a limited run of three hundred cassettes, this effort was shotly picked up by Forever Plagued Records, and found its new home on CD in September of 2011 with all text in the packaging being translated to English. However, outside this label picking the album up, it appears that there has been little attention paid towards this group from the press, or even dedicated underground Black Metal fans. So, is this something that should change, or is it more a sign of things to come?

First of all, the audio to Womb of Primeval Darkness isn’t too great. Unfortunately, this effort doesn’t really have much of a bite to it, but instead seems to cater to a restrained muffled sound. You can pull a clear distinction in the chords of the guitars though, and the bass comes through well in the mix, but in the end neither really offer much to the recording. This really is a tragedy since some tracks have a lot of potential. “The Fire of Ancient Rituals,” for example, is a superb Black Metal offering that has a really creepy tone through the guitars and bass, built up even more due to the superb drumming that has a slight ritualistic vibe, but the aforementioned muffled tone really holds it all back. The cymbals of the kit still come through pretty clear, but the snares and kicks often seem more along the lines of the bass guitar and its higher buzzing sound. Very rarely do the kicks really make a large impact on the music, often being drowned out despite the click they have. Sometimes the volume seems to amp up out of nowhere when the pace slows down, like with “Storm from the Depths of the Aeon” and its notable level difference on the kicks. Of course, this happens to the snares to at times,especially the parts closer to the mics that end up having a slight wooden sound to them, which end up far more distinct and actually help out considering Do Skonu doesn’t seem to buy into the blast beat driven modern Black Metal sound all the time.

But, audio issues aside, Womb of Primeval Darkness still has plenty of good songs, as well as some pretty clear environmental elements that help to establish the atmosphere the instruments can’t quite do on their own. “Storm from the Depths of the Aeon” doesn’t quite match the title when it kicks in, having more of a somber water washing up against the shore sound that lasts quite a bit. After that little introduction, the actual music kicks in. Clearly, the song is meant to be a lot darker and deeper than it is, but thanks to the quality, it doesn’t quite make it. Given the random loud burst of bass kicks, you actually become a bit saddened to know how big an impact they can have on the music if they were handled better in the production. But, the haunting chords used here against the mid-tempo pace allows some really catchy verses to kick in while a faster, more intense chorus catches the listener a little more off guard. The creepy tone of the music is met with shouting vocals that take a little getting adjusted to, making up the entire performance of release. Despite the distortion used on them, there is still a lack of range, as well as the fact that they feel out of place.

But, by the time you reach “Luciferian Apotheosis,” the vocal style being used shouldn’t be much of an issue, making more sense of being a tortured, ghastly scream. This song also carries much of what makes “Storm from the Depths of the Aeon” so great. The obvious deeper tone of the music is captured again, and the creepy atmosphere of the song matches the vocal performance well, though again the lack of range ends up hurting. This track can also feel open at times, as there are plenty of moments where the music seems to slow down a bit. This isn’t bad, as it’s largely due to haunting guitar chords being performed at slower paces that allow other elements, such as the bass kicks, to come through more. Aside this track, as well as the much stronger “The Fire of Ancient Rituals,” there’s the closing cut “Strangled,” which pushes past the nine minute mark, and actually ends up being as varied, and as impressive, as “Storm from the Depths of the Aeon,” even if much of the length is made up of the ambient water effects the appear earlier in it, but for a much longer amount of time. The deeper sound is a strong here, as well as carries a bit of a glorious, epic vibe to it that one might expect from a Pagan of Viking Black Metal act. This pushes to the forefront around the three minute mark thanks to some background harmonized chanting. However, it also incorporates a bit of a cold, melancholic tone shortly after thanks to the sampled winds that roar against what sounds like water dripping in a cave. The vocals also incorporate a little more range, and even some extra energy, which is a welcome perk to any song here, especially coming off of the title track.

One of the big perks of “Storm from the Depths of the Aeon” and others like it is that, while longer, there’s enough solid material to justify that length. The shorter songs, however, are not as lucky. “The Grin of Cold Emptiness” doesn’t quite benefit from that obvious deeper music intention the previous track showed, coming off more as a modern faster, blast beat fueled offering. It does include some very simple, and very short keyboards over an enjoyable closing that sounds richer in performance despite largely being the main riffs of the song continued. There isn’t much variety either, leaving this shorter song to be rather boring, and even bland for the modern Black Metal style. This would benefit more from a sharper distortion to the guitar, as well as a better audio quality to the drums at the very least considering how vital they are to the pace. “Womb of Primeval Darkness” is better, though not by all that much. It does carry some of the creepy atmosphere along with it, but the faster tone shows the faults that louder snare drum has. The material itself has a little more range with better transitions to any changes in tempo or the music itself, and makes for a better overall experience than “The Grin of Cold Emptiness,” though far from having any real sort of atmosphere like the other tracks, catering again to that modern sound this quality simply doesn’t work with.

So, despite the obvious audio issues, Womb of Primeval Darkness still makes for a really good album. Do Skonu‘s first official full-length recording is as dark and creepy as it can get with the muffled trait, and the additional audio samples that show up help to establish a working atmosphere to the release. While this release does have its faults, such as the modern blast beat songs and the lacking vocal range, there’s no denying that this is a release that shouldn’t have been strictly limited to only three hundred cassette copies. It’s great to see Forever Plagued Records picking this one up and bringing it back to the market. Womb of Primeval Darkness is an effort any self-respecting Black Metal fan should check out, as there are a good number of tracks here well worth your time.

01. Storm from the Deptchs of the Aeon – 7:41
02. The Grin of Cold Emptiness – 3:25
03. The Fire of Ancient Rituals – 5:49
04. Luciferian Apotheosis – 5:54
05. Womb of Primeval Darkness – 3:12
06. Strangled – 9:21
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10
Do Skonu (band)
Do Skonu
Physical review copy of this release provided by Forever Plagued Records.