Written by Nathanas Trismegistus
Medico Peste – ב: The Black Bile; released March 20, 2020 by Season of Mist under their cringeworthy “Underground Activist” banner. Medico Peste, on the other hand, is not cringeworthy. Far from it. Their music will, however, provoke some measure of mental anguish in the listener. I’m not sure what the point of ordering their albums with letters of the Hebrew alphabet is (other than the obvious religious references). A lot of bands start out by ordering their albums with – typically – Roman numerals, but eventually discontinue the trend later in their career when they realize how pointless it is or when their musical style evolves. It is somewhat appropriate, however, in this instance as The Black Bile acts as a logical conclusion in the progression of Medico Peste albums, from their 2012 debut, א: Tremendum et Fascinatio, through to their 2017 EP, Herzogian Darkness. (I have never listened to their demo so I cannot comment.) It will certainly be interesting to see where they take their musical style next.
Medico Peste is composed, mostly, of live band members of Mgła. One member, the bassist (who certainly worked his ass off for this release), is in another excellent Polish band, Over the Voids…, which you should definitely check out. What I find puzzling is how the Metal Archives page for this band lists four different, current guitarists for Medico Peste. I’d have to get my hands on a physical copy with a booklet (assuming credits are even given) before I can confirm this, though. (And considering how crazy things are with shipping during this COVID-19 crisis, I can’t foresee securing a copy anytime in the near future.) Regardless, Medico Peste’s music bears almost no similarities with that of Mgła. Whereas Mgła deigns to flirt with beautifully-somber melodies, Medico Peste infects the listener with noxious, hideous, sickening dissonance (really appropriate for our current predicament). I would compare their style, maybe, more to the dissonant Icelandic/U.S. bands, such as Wormlust and Skaphe, or maybe even Voidcræft; but, especially, Deathspell Omega (particularly with the opening track). I tend to look at Medico Peste as Mgła’s manic-depressive, suicidal, schizophrenic little brother.
There is a notable increase in the number of musical breaks throughout this album, as opposed to their debut. Several of them are astonishingly catchy despite the progressive approach. In fact, this album is so progressive that I dare say it borders on jazz. The leap to more “progressive” elements reminds me a lot of the leap made by Craft back in 2018 with their obliquely self-aware release, White Noise and Black Metal. Most surprising of all, however, is how much emphasis is placed on the bass in this album. This might be one of those rare instances, in black metal, where the bass is incorporated very well into the musical composition. So, unsurprisingly, the composition of ב: The Black Bile is the big draw for me. The performances are all excellent. Production-wise, I have absolutely no qualms with this album. Everything sounds balanced, clear, pronounced, and amazing.
I meant to have this review up earlier; but, you know, things have been a little hectic as of late. After a couple listens, I have deemed Medico Peste’s ב: The Black Bile a worthy addition to the collection. Favorite tracks are “All Too Human”, “Numinous Catastrophy” (probably my absolute favorite), “Skin”, and the eponymous track. “Were Saviours Believers?” and “Holy Opium” were, in my opinion, the only weak tracks. I would definitely recommend this album, but (TRVE KVLT BE WARNED!) this is not your typical black metal affair. It definitely favors the progressive side of the black metal spectrum. I cannot, however, deem it essential. Though it was unconventional, lugubrious, atmospheric, and decrepit, it wasn’t mind-blowingly so. Nevertheless, if you managed to snatch up a copy before your city (or country) got locked down, definitely give it a spin. For the rest of you, it’s streaming for free on YouTube and Bandcamp. What else have you got to do? It’s a satisfying enough way to pass the time while you’re stuck under martial quarantine.
Listen/buy here: https://medicopeste.bandcamp.com/