Dead Shell Of Universe – Tamo gde pupoljak vene… tamo je moje seme (Death Knell Productions)
Review by Milos Sebalj
Back at the middle of the previous decade, Serbian Black Metal was at a phenomenal rise in activity which has yet to be renewed. Many bands came and went, leaving a distinct mark with a single demo and some of their members went on in different directions, never quite leaving their roots at peace. Something like that happened with Dead Shell of Universe. Originally recorded back in 2007, this long-titled album gained a cult following in the decade after its release. Now, re-mastered and with a new song as a bonus, it has emerged from the depths as a skeleton of a long lost, wrecked ship to gain a new life among the curious offspring.
Being, in essence, a raw, second wave Scandinavian Black Metal worship, “Tamo gde pupoljak vene…” offers much more than the basic incarnation of the genre. The initial version of the album is comprised of three lengthy tracks. The first two are “Burzum-esque” outtakes on the matter at hand, formed around razor-sharp riffing which, as opposed to the infamous Norwegian who actually was on his way to kill Euronymous, do not repeat to infinity, but give way to variety of elements that make tracks of this length enough complexity to make them stand out of their influences. The rhythms change throughout, allowing for different emotions to make it to the surface. Furthermore, drum patterns aren’t as predictable as it is usual with music like this. Somewhat weird usage of clean vocals seems, at first, to nail your inner blackboard, but it comes into place after you get used to it. Chorus, on the other hand, which makes a significant part of the title track voice, was done magnificently. Gives the song a whole new perspective and removes it almost completely out of the clichés swarming the majority of nowadays raw Black Metal scene. Not to mention the ever-present bass guitar which is often completely absent from any kind of creative input, yet gets more than enough credit in Dead Shell of Universe. Third, nameless track, brings us back to Burzum, but to the ‘prison years’. A take on deep space ambience, led by a piano and keyboard effects, with subtle drums coming in at particular moments, might be presumed as an outro, but given its length of almost 9 minutes it is certainly another aspect of this trios creativity, not to be separated from the pure Metal one.
The bonus track is a new one, hopefully first of many, as it displays a definite step forward, towards a more distinct face of the band. The foundations are still there but somewhat refreshed after long years of hiatus. First of all, the vocal arrangements have fallen perfectly into place. Black Metal essence has been given an ‘equal partner’ in keyboard orchestrations which often make the verses dissolve somehow one into another. However, it does not create a chaotic confluence of sound. It simply feels that way, as the atmospheric side is put to the forefront.
Now, there should be a whole essay about the lyrics of “Tamo gde pupoljak vene…”, but as the lyrics are in Serbian you are just going to have to trust my words. These are beautiful examples of dark poetry put to ‘practical purposes’, dealing with misanthropy and nihilism in forms of surgical cuts to the innermost fears and regrets of a feeble human being. I would at least try to translate for you the title of the record but it loses all of its stylistic beauty in such an endeavor. The cover artwork is effective enough and should give you some answers, if you just look deeper.
As Serbian Black Metal is still going strong, I have a feeling this reissue comes just in time to preserve memories of the ‘golden days’. Dead Shell of Universe made quite an impact back in the day, so somebody might just consider wiping dust off of Besomar, Zaklan and their contemporaries. Ah, the memories… In the meantime, let us hope “Ex nihilo” is not a swansong for Dead Shell of Universe.