Persekutor’s raw, frozen metal brings violence, burly chaos on rowdy debut ‘Permanent Winter’

It’s like 90 degrees as I write this, but winter apparently is on its way at some point, though with 2020 being what it is, I’m not expecting any guarantees. Yet, in a few months, these hot days will subside, the sun will stick around for far less time, and we’ll be thrown back into colder temperatures and icy woe, that is if winter makes it to the East Coast this year. It’s been a while.

All of this sloppily sets the stage for “Permanent Winter,” the debut full-length record from Persekutor, a band that has its roots in Romania but is operating out of Los Angeles at the moment. The band is led by Vladislav Bârladeanu (or Vlad the Inhaler, as he’s known here) and creates what he calls Romanian ice metal, which is a romanticized term for gruff, blood-and-guts black metal like what was being churned out in the years before the Second Wave. On this nine-track, 29-minute offering, Vlad and his mates—guitarist Inverted Chris Velez (Lightning Swords of Death), bassist Adam Murray (Deth Crux/Ides of Gemini), and drummer Scott Batiste (Saviours/Ides of Gemini)—rip through the ice and deliver a violent, rousing assault that smashes you and leaves you to fend for yourself in the frigid terrain.

“Babylon of the Snows” opens with a surge as the drums begin to pound as Vlad’s vocals creak along, feeling raw and bloody. Visions of storming city walls with violence spews as Vlad wails, “We fought them all!” as their victory rages into hell. “Can You Feel the Frost of Dawn” is an energetic gush at the front, with Vlad wailing about “40,000 years buried in the fucking snow.” Fuck and all its forms are used quite liberally in the lyrics, which does add to the charm of the album. The pace gallops hard, getting meaty and catchy as guitars fire up and burn away. “Winter’s Meat” is over before you know it as the riffs swagger, primitive howls blast, and Vlad’s choked-out “oohs” drive the course, feeling gravelly and drunkenly violent. “Chained to the Tundra” starts with a flurry of leads and Vlad’s cryptic storytelling, as the chorus reminds, “Hell on earth is here alright.” Guitars ramp up over the verses while the soloing basks in heat and leaves ash behind.

“Arctic Cross” has the guitars leading with the vocals erupting as Vlad insists on the chorus, “Arctic frost is here to stay.” I mean, science says otherwise, but hopefully he’s right… Anyway, the leads smother as the chorus rounds back, coming to a gnarly end. “Ice Wars” has punchy riffs, and there’s more bloodshed in the snow with Vlad warning about the dire consequences as he wails, “It’s a long way down.” The playing gets even more aggressive, with Vlad warning the enemies will “drag your fucking corpse away.” Grim. The title cut brings another helping of catchy riffs while the verses speed along, and the chorus is simply structured but effective. Soloing tears holes in the ice as the whispers of “winter, winter” pummel to the end. “Frostquake” bring lathering guitars as the pace chugs heavily, as Vlad warns the weather phenomenon is “slicing and dicing the earth.” Things get dizzy and weird from there as the track comes to a grisly end. Closer “Black Death Punk Skins” is the only track that isn’t locked into a frozen tundra, as the band celebrates death and black metal, punk, and … people not wearing shirts. It’s a fun song but pretty fucking silly, as Vlad insists, “It’s just rock n roll,” over the chorus.

Winter is a spotty proposition around here anymore, what with climates shifting the way they have, and a good heavy snow in when you’re locked away with nothing but alcohol and heathenism (even if only in your head) definitely is a welcome prospect. Persekutor have a stranglehold on those visions with “Permanent Winter,” a record that’s an old-style slab of metallic punishment with a side of fun just for the hell of it. Granted, the record sounds pretty good here in the summer, but it’ll go down even better in a few months when we’re buried in ice and snow.

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