Bloodway’s second album Mapping the Moment with the Logic of Dreams is set for release by Italian label I, Voidhanger Records on September 25th of 2015. The three-piece consists of Costin Chioreanu on guitar and vocals, Alex Ghita on drums and Mihai Andrei on bass. Many may recognize Chioreanu’s name from his work as a graphic artist whose album art has been used by a slew of metal bands including Mayhem, Napalm Death and Ulver.
Bloodway’s bio describes the Romanian trio as “a surprising brew of black metal, psych-prog and avant-garde music” which doesn’t seem too far off the mark. However, as far as black metal is concerned, one would be better off thinking modern day Enslaved rather than Deathspell Omega or Mayhem. Despite the progressive rock tendencies, there is an obvious focus here on songcraft, although this is expressed through the overall cohesion and smoothness of transitions rather than catchy hooks.
The album begins with a short intro entitled “Seeding Distance”, a disturbing mix of drone and musique concrete with a sample running overhead. “The Transfinite Castaway” kicks things off proper, quickly cycling through doom and post-punk riffs before settling in on the first verse. Things proceed between a couple of alternating mid-paced black metal riffs. The song closes with an epic slower riff and an emotive guitar solo. “Walking Past Near the Lighthouse” follows next. The first riff is much faster than anything in “The Transfinite Castaway”, but rather than evoking black metal, it seems more reminiscent of something from Botch’s American Nervoso. That riff quickly drops away and the song picks up stylistically from the track before. There is something hard to pin down about this group’s sound, haunting and heavy, but also well-constructed. The emphasis falls toward atmosphere rather than extremity.
At this point, it might be worth commenting on Costin Chioreanu’s vocals. His tone is unusual, throaty and harsh, but also very high-pitched. It is actually reminiscent of an old Canadian metalcore band called Ire. For a metal band with prog tendencies and an experimental flair, the vocals might actually be the most challenging aspect for the listener. And yet, what his approach might lack in brutality, it more than makes up for it in otherworldliness, an excellent complement to the music.
Early into track four, “Mirror Twins”, Chioreanu adds another dimension to the vocal approach, using the same tone but following the melody to match the music. The effect is not unlike an off-kilter King Diamond, as unsettling as it is interesting.
“Early Glade Pilot” comes next and finds Bloodway at their most somber, depressive and dynamic. The song starts with a complex doom riff before giving way to a softer section, whispered lyrics carried by a strummed bass underneath. Two thirds of the way through, the pace picks up and for a brief moment, and the first signs of traditional black metal blast beats appear.
The accompanying bio goes out of the way to mention the next song, “A Hollow Bridge”. In many ways this instrumental is indeed the standout on the album. The mix of discordant riffs and post-punk sections are not unlike the work on Kayo Dot’s most recent album Coffins on Io. Quick bursts of Naked City-style free jazz freakouts interrupt the song at regular intervals, each one featuring the saxophone work of guest musician Dr. Mikannibal of Sigh fame. The song closes with an epic doom riff which fades away to a gently picked guitar arpeggio.
From here, the final two tracks ramp up the intensity, pointing the album firmly in the direction of climax. “Garden of Diurnal Fractals” begins with a mellow guitar part but quickly shifts up to a faster pace over the course of two successive riffs. In many ways, this song is the closest Bloodway comes to sounding like a regular black metal band. The complexity and textures are still present, but aren’t as obvious in the face of the material’s intensity.
The title track, “Mapping the Moment with the Logic of Dreams”, closes out the album. While something in the chord progressions is reminiscent of Ephel Duath, there is also an element of more traditional songwriting here. The first two thirds of the song features a back and forth between two riffs in an almost verse-chorus fashion. Things then wind down into another tasteful doom riff not unlike the others that have appeared throughout the album before deconstructing itself into a few strummed chords. The album closes with a quick burst of cadences and vocals, ending with sharp cut, an unpredictable journey brought to a close.
It is worth noting, that while this album is available in the usual standard digital format, the compact disc does include a twenty-page booklet and cover featuring Chioreanu’s powerful artwork. It is surreal and avoids the standard metal artwork clichés. From content to color palette, the art serves as the perfect accompaniment to the music contained within.
Bloodway is a unique musical entity. Their dedication to progressive and experimental sounds is unquestionable, but their sound remains quite accessible. This is a band which certainly stands a good chance of expanding their audience beyond the confines of their niche, earning the admiration of a wider metal audience.
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Avantgenre: Psych-prog Black Metal
Official site: http://bloodway.bandcamp.com/
Review online since: 05.10.2015 / 23:02:25
01 – Seeding Distance