As I sit in my desolate lair the cold of the earth travels up from the cobbles beneath one’s feet. I sit and ponder on just what I have coming up next to review.
As I stare into the distance the smoke and scent from my cigarette is mixing with that raw earthy smell in my abode. I almost slip into a meditative state and just as I’m doing so my device lets out a Chime. Honestly, when will they make tones for these things that seem to have a nation glued to them or people blaring awful sounds or what can only be described in the smallest of senses music? As I peer down at my device one of my many bosses has sent me some files. They are a selection of releases soon to be issued by Iron Bonehead. As I flick through the submissions three catch my ocular cavity and this is one of them. “Pa Vesh En” “Catacombs”.
Now whilst not a brand new release as well we’ve only just got “Martyr” and we all know just how amazing that record was truth be told I’m still playing it today. Anyway, I digress. So, moving on. Here as stated this is a compilation album much the same as Knife Ritual/ Dead Womb. Now for some reason, this has not been billed as a compilation, however, if you look at the song titles it’s 100% obvious. As I roll up my robed sleeves I prepare to dive into this release to see just what has prompted the entity to re-release these select tracks one again.
Track One “Call Of The Dead” was originally taken from Pa Vesh En’s second full-length “Pyrefication” released back in 2019. Production on this album was quite raw even for the year it was released this however doesn’t detract from the track or the album’s overall sound. You could see the shape of something that was to come. The vocals were much more of a strained shrill, here they have been brought more forward within the mix and while they sound still strained they sound more like words that travel on frozen winds. This stands up to the track’s name even more so. The mix on both of these tracks is wildly different from the guitars to the drums and even the bass. Neither song has lost its originality if anything the new mix has one hundred percent elevated it. The guitars are a driving force in the new mix and the drums and bass have been ramped up to create a more crushing blow. As stated there is nothing wrong with either mix just know that the mix on this revamped track is blow-by-blow leagues above its predecessor.
Track Two “A Moonlight Hunger” came from the split conjured in the year 2018 with “Temple Moon” Again the production is extremely low end and due to the speed it is played at it creates this almost vacuous sound that sucks you right into a spiralling black vortex of Pa Vesh En. Now on “Catacombs” the new lease of life, this track has been given, whether re-recorded or even so much as just having the production elevated and cleaned up slightly the new lease of life this has been given once again elevates the track to a new and heightened status. The atmosphere has become thicker and much more foreboding on these re-engineered tracks almost tripling the threat which it delivers.
Track Three “A Funeral Procession” is taken from “Church Of Bones” Pa Vesh En’s first full-length album release. After releasing three other releases within the same year comprising of one demo, an E.P. a split and finally an album. One thing is certain Pa Vesh En if anything is consistent and it’s clear to see that levels of intensity upon every release have only intensified time and time again. The Journey has always been a forward one and even on this track you can see just where the entity wants to take this project. In the original version, the bass is high up in that mix creating that thick and impending low-end deep rumble. Also high up in the mix on the original are the drums and especially the snare. Almost taking this track right back to the early ’90s in both production and sound.
Whilst listening to the newly transformed version not much has changed. If anything there are slight and subtle changes that manage to leak through the thickmire of sound. There is some light key work that can now be differentiated from the original mix this adds a slight folk element along with the haunting vocal shrills from the main entity that comes through in almost waves of sound. Like whispers through leaves on a tree that lighten and add a level of crisp frostiness to this pounding and truly overbearing sound.
Track Four “Chalice of Blood” is the first track taken off the first 2017 demo “Knife Ritual” This is early Pa Vesh En and you can certainly tell that. The sound is distinct and unique to that of the entity fronting this project. The guitars feature prominently in the original mix along with the vocals. Again the bass takes a centre roll pushing the guitars far back within the mix to create this dark and grinding sound. This is a slow and sombre track and there are some heavy doom-laden influences that flow through it. On the new mix, the guitars are right at the forefront and it displays the entity’s ability to play.
Whilst the bass still keeps that low end deep oppressive rumble with the drums backing it perfectly. However, in this new mix, the guitars elevate this slow and sombre track of before to levels of almost chilling grandeur. The layering of the guitars adds opulence and a new level of atmosphere to this old and first track from an early demo.
Track Five “The Relentless Plague” is the third track taken from the same demo as the track “Knife Ritual” This certainly has a sound that matches the title. It’s both relentless and cathartic in every single way. The original sound on this is extremely stripped back. The bass and the drums provide the thicker warmer notes. The production is extremely low quality and the vocals are like agonised screams. This is one of the first times the guitars are quite forward in the mix which makes for an all new atmosphere. After listening to the newer remixed track this is the first time that the original version shines over the new remixed one. The original I’ve found is much closer to the sound that’s transgressing through the new mixes despite the production being lower quality than that of the new mixes. I feel that too much has been taken away from the original mix on this new version it’s like it’s lost an element rather than gained like the others. If anything I probably would’ve aimed to have the original mix on here to keep the flow up until the midway point of the album.
Track Six “The Venom Seed” is another track taken from “Church Of Bones” It is easy to see here which recording reigns supreme and the new one that we see here has had the bass and drums cleaned up and brought forward in the mix. The vocals remain as the shrieking agonising howls as on the original but the music is what is at the forefront. The riffs have been polished and have become more concise within the mix. This makes for a truly brilliant sound. Everything can be heard and nothing is drowned out or lost. the original mix almost feels contrived next to this. However, you still can’t lose sight of what was originally recorded. This version leaves a lasting haunting and more harrowing feel to it. I feel the guitars in the original tend to break free and soar in places and you get the taste of melodies that lurk underneath the pounding bass line and the drums.
Track Seven “Damnation and the Witch” was originally on the 2018 EP “The Gate” This slow and cumbersome track has a very primitive slow beat to it. The bass Echoes above the chilling slow riffs and the vocals echo throughout like chilling frost-bitten winds across snow-capped mountains. The rhythm guitars provide that chilling and ominous sound while the lead seeks a truly quite opulent sound. The overdrive is high in the guitars which creates an almost grinding sound to the rhythm guitar. The drums shift pace and the power that rattles from the kick pedal is enough to crack the seventh seal of hell. I have to say that both mixes of this be it the Original or the new mixed version are truly worthy of one another. The track ends in a total crescendo of sound that mimics the sound of walls crashing down around you.
The music truly befits the title and emulates the damnation of the witch. Right from the vocals representing her howls of pain to the crashing drums representing the destruction her magic is causing at this very moment in time. Allow this to be wrapped up beautifully in some truly disturbing and discordant riffs.
Track Eight “Entwined With Snakes” comes from the EP “Cryptic Rites Of Necromancy” which dropped in the year 2019. On the Original version, the guitars are easily noted and the bass truly gives that thunderous feel to the track. The vocals are cold and hateful and lurk deep at the back behind the structure of the music however sometimes drifting through and matching the sound of the cymbal bell or even the rhythm guitar. Whereas on the original version, everything seems much more claustrophobic within the sound the new version allows the guitars to almost soar above the murk of the drums and the thunderous bass. The guitars on this new mix can be differentiated from the remaining instruments and the vocals certainly enhance the sound of the extremely complex and vivacious riffs. The drums I feel have been completely re-recorded. You can tell in the manner they are played. Little Ornate fills have been added and there is no overuse of the cymbal bell. This track has been elevated from its predecessor and it shows.
Track Nine “Grotesque Abomination” is taken from “Pyrefication” and again this has been elevated to the ninth level. From the opening guitar slide which is almost reminiscent of razors across skin. This track is a total whirlwind in sound and truly engulfs you in a thick and throwing sound from the first verse right the way to the midsection where both the sound and tempo truly shift. The sound matches the title very much certainly grotesque and an abomination however in a really good way. Hearing this new mix you can tell so much was lost on the original recording. There is almost a thick dense fog on the original mix and when you compare the two it has certainly been lifted on the re-recording. It’s almost much cleaner but still retains that murky edge that Pa Vesh En retains on all his releases.
Track Ten “Walks With The Dead” is the last track on this remastered compilation and first appeared on the “Dead Womb” EP in 2018. Opening with a horrifying sound of howling winds or demonic cries from an undercroft this slow and melancholic number is truly horror personified. There is a clear distinction between the original to this rendition here. You can almost hear the sound of keys/ synth being added here. And if that’s not the case the guitars are doing a masterful job of emulating this the layering on here truly does give some slight dungeon synth vibes. Something I feel we are not too privy to on Pa Vesh En releases. There’s also a beautiful melancholy to this track almost a DSBM feel. The vocals almost represent the dead souls that are represented in the title. there are many things that lurk on this final dark and foreboding track. The guitars certainly leach through the thick and vacuous sound created by the bass and the drums. This more polished version certainly allows lost elements from the original recording to come through and give a truly harrowing foreclosure to this compilation.
As I sit and stare at my pile of Pa Vesh En vinyls and cassettes wondering how I’ve chopped and changed between all the material I own whilst listening to the new files. It’s a wonder how I haven’t lost my mind. Whilst I have been listening it is certainly easy to see why this has been remastered and remixed. This now plays and ties in well with the sound that was captured on Pa Vesh En’s last release “Martyr” That thick claustrophobic sound has truly been adapted to these old recordings and given a new lease of life. A lot of comparisons can be made to the old recordings however I do feel whilst “Martyr” is truly some of Pa Vesh En darkest material the older material should not be forgotten.
The clean-up of these tracks has certainly enabled this record to blend seamlessly with the latest release and anyone just getting into Pa Vesh en as of Martyr would certainly be forgiven for thinking this album is an entire new album rather than a remix or rerecording of some precious tracks from the past. This could also lead to a new listener looking back once delving deeper into this act to discover the older recordings and dismissing them on their low production value or what some would call poor sound quality. Even though I have given praise to a lot of these remixes I can hand on heart say I do still have the deepest respect and appreciation for what came before this album. That isn’t to take away from this release at all though.
The mix on this album is second to none and it does make a good portion of these tracks much more cohesive when listening. However, that all-round dark atmosphere that Pa Vesh En originally captured is just something else. I feel the true level of horror was first conceived on those tracks and the atmosphere is just pure skin crawling and harrowing. I have to say that Pa Vesh En is easily one of my favourite black metal acts. There is a level of mysticism and darkness that surrounds this entity and his music that I am going to strive to get to know more. I feel a good deep dive coming on and what better act to do so with. So take from this album what you will enjoy the modified and engulfing sound but also take the time to appreciate the old and the true representation of Pa Vesh En visceral and blackened version of Black Metal.
Hails #foras #lordoftheshadows. 🕯⛓️⚔️💀🥀
Catacombs will be released via Inferna Profundus Records on November 1st