Tchornobog wrestle demons, see chaos in the vomit of vile deity on mangling debut opus

The mind is capable of bizarre, terrifying things. It can open all the possibilities in the world, help people create amazing things that push society forward, and can help one achieve greatness. It also can cripple, devastate, and massacre one’s life, rendering everything they do a harrowing experience.

People also can use their minds to expand beyond the here and now, and that’s a major theme on the debut Tchornobog album, a self-titled record that is one of the most challenging, strange records you’re bound to hear this year. Or at any time, really. The record, the creation of Markov Soroka, who has visited us in the past with other vessels such as Aureole and Slow, uses this band as a means of confronting physical pain and illness, childhood trauma, and even his own personal demons, all through the hulking presence of the Tchornobog (the name of the black Slavic deity has many spellings, by the way). Through heavy meditation, intense reflection, and locking mental horns with the deity, the master of all that is evil and vile, Soroka witnessed what he calls “a terrible sensory overload of the black vomit of Tchornobog.” The result of what you hear on this four-track, 64-minute record (that also includes percussionist/drummer Magnús Skúlason) is what the creator was witnessing locked inside his own head, which explains why this record is so painfully chaotic.

“I. The Vomiting Tchornobog (Slithering Gods of Cognitive Dissonance)” takes nearly as long to say as it does to witness. Eh, not really. This 20:10-long monster immediately unleashes fury and spacey sickness, as melodies swirl, and the initial assault crushes what’s beneath it. Trudging and chewing, the song takes on tenets of technically savage death metal and bizarre transmissions, dragging you over crags of rocks, sharp hills, and deep valleys, pouring disorienting playing into cataclysmic wonder. “The brood withers beneath the surface where her seeds spread,” is howled, as bubbly noises bring the song to a brief halt, before thunderous lurching, mountainous death majesty, and relentless chaos all fold into a strange passage of sound, where the Tchornobog proceeds to vomit and spread its sickness. “II. Hallucinatory Black Breath of Possession (Mountain-Eye Amalgamation)” starts with Soroka wailing, “Tchornobog of 6,000 tongues! Is there a limp vein into which you have not vomited?” That goes along with pure demolition of the senses, a devastating onslaught that keeps the pressure on high and your body feeling like it could melt. Later, roared vocals mix with bizarre playing, feeling like alien terrain, while the madness only intensifies, putting your mind and body to the test. The music plays warped tricks on your mind, while the final minutes clobber and turn everything into mashed organs.

“III: Non-Existence’s Warmth (Infinite Natality Psychosis)” is born with strings churning and tribal drumming, as clean guitars begin to trickle into existence. Warm sax filters into the picture, sending strange vibes down your spine, and from there, chills enter, radically changing the temperature. The music gets oddly emotional and heavy, as the growls sprawl, doom clouds settle, and the music turns suddenly ominous. The tempo pulls back as drums taps, piano and sax mix and give a jazzy feel, and then the track comes to a spirited end. Closer “IIII: Here, at the Disposition of Time (Inverting A Solar Giant)” runs a hefty 17:48, and Soroka makes the most of the expansive run time. Crunch and noises meet, and the tempo begins smothering. The growls crumble as mournful melodies enter the fray, and the vocals sound like they’re slithering under water. The track then kicks into manic gear, with growls engorging. Crazed playing makes your head spin, and noise swallows everything. The disorienting path goes through bubbling growls, toppling roars, and piercing strings. Savagery crushes souls, while a full-on black metal assault spills out of the void, capturing by surprise, and then the entire thing is sucked back into the cosmos, never to return.

Soroka’s encounter with the Tchornobog resulted in one of the most intense, deranged slabs of metal released this year, and there’s no walking away from this record mentally unscathed. The carnage and fury that lies within these four songs, as well as the psychological entanglement, is enough to impact even the strongest among us. But we all have demons, we all have woes, and taking on this recreation of a close encounter with one of the nastiest forces on any plane of existence can give us some idea of what it might take to get to the other side.

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