PERSEKUTOR – Snow Business

The arrival of Persekutor at Blues Funeral Recordings marks something of a sidestep for the label. Often associated with stoner and classic doom metal sounds, the signing of this band brings them an unashamed metal outfit whose stock sounds mix black metal growling with the fearless chug of the slower end of groove metal, fused with the retro feel of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

On first listen, ‘Snow Business’ actually sounds like a bunch of massive riffs with very little to back them up. On subsequent listens, unfortunately, this actually proves to be the case. Despite being talented musicians, Persekutor aren’t great songwriters, and they’ve somehow saddled themselves with two non-singers hell bent on making the superb riffs feel wasted. It’s the timelessness of their massive riffs that have undoubtedly attracted the ears of the powers that be at Blues Funeral, however, and in turn, could appeal to some fans of classic metal. With better vocals, “some” could have – and probably should have – been “a lot” of fans, but, rather tragically, between the presence of a sub-Venom growl and a tuneless wail, the bulk of this album is rendered hard work.

‘Siberian Skull’ kicks everything off with a riff that sounds like a callback to Iron Maiden circa ‘Powerslave’ before quickly dropping into something that could have been inspired by a couple of the slower moments from Judas Priest’s ‘Painkiller’. With the arrival of the aforementioned vocal, the riffs take a slightly doomier approach and sound equally great, but the incessant growling makes any lyrics impenetrable and the finer points of the music redundant. Thankfully, there’s a brilliant instrumental break along the way where Persekutor show off a gift for twin lead guitar sounds, further suggesting a genuine love for classic metal that runs through the core of the best tracks. If this opening statement greets your ears favourably, you’re more than good to go with the rest, but there’s a feeling that most listeners will be frustrated by what they find here.

An equally powerful command of a riff is present during ‘Polar Trauma’, when chugging guitars offer as much of a thunderous sound as a punchy drum, before exploring a very Venom-ous pre-chorus where the sounds of early black metal and classic thrash intrude on the more melodic aspects of Persekutor’s metallic onslaught. The good bits of this number are ace, but unfortunately, there’s a rather challenging vocal to contend with once more, and similarly, ‘Feel Bad Hit of The Winter’ sounds superb with some very Dio-esque riffs at its core, suggesting some great musical talent. Having set up a superb mid tempo groove, the vocal happily goes about the business of turning off as many people as possible, only this time with a weird croon. It’s potentially better than the growl that dominates elsewhere, but since it sounds like a metal singer taking the piss, it’s really hard to take seriously, let alone actually love.

Immediately offering another superb riff, ‘Halloween ’91’ evokes the thundering sounds of early 90s Motorhead, which immediately offers something great. On this jagged rifferama, even the sub-black metal gruffness seems to work well, and the band’s aggression shines through every chord. Armed with a mad bark that, again, has probably been inspired by early Venom, the verses rattle along with a genuine intent, but things actually fall apart at the chorus, when the roar is traded in for the wail. This might’ve worked, had the vocal had something to work with, but merely wailing “halloween” over and over doesn’t pass muster in terms of anything either interesting or memorable – at least not in a good way. Thankfully, an instrumental break allows for another round of Persekutor’s huge twin lead guitar sound to set everything back on track, before ‘The Frozen Hours’ shares the kind of traditional doom metal sounds usually associated with Blues Funeral. Predictably, the slow and funereal sound suits Persekutor brilliantly, often making them sound like a better version of a Tommy Stewart helmed band. The mix of obvious Sabbath and Electric Wizard riffs are joined by a bright sounding lead that pierces through the sludge with a superb clarity, whilst the bass cuts in with a suitably muddy bottom end. As usual, the vocal isn’t classic, but the slower and doomier backdrop is better suited to the semi-clean, pained tones, and overall, this track is the best vehicle for attracting potential fans.

‘Suck City’, on the other hand, is just plain bad. A solid guitar riff, more finely crafted twin leads, and pounding drum create a tough glam-ish stomp, which could have added power to a great song. Persekutor, in their infinite lack of wisdom, have chosen to couple the great music with an absolute howler of a vocal where the ridiculous growls are counterbalanced by the weird croon, giving the listener a double whammy of badness to choose between. At best, it’s like picking the average guy in a Battle of The Bands contest, purely because the competition is so…poor. Those who love riffs with a massive groove should head straight for the title cut, however, since it shows off Persekutor brilliantly, as they work through another volume filled romp that’s one part Motorhead, one part stoner metal band attacking at full throttle, and one part NWOBHM throwback. Here, a superb bass part gives a fast rhythm a genuine power, whilst some very thrash-centric guitars push and pull between the sweat and leather of ’82 and the sheer force of the San Francisco Bay Area circa ’85. In terms of capturing lightning in a bottle, this is the album’s finest three minutes. Even a misjudged black metal rasp won’t keep these riffs down. It isn’t enough to recommend ‘Snow Business’ as a whole, but it’s certainly enough to prove this band has energy and obvious musical talent, even if that isn’t always put to the best use.

Overall, the riffs here are often superb. Each of the ten numbers brings a massive array of guitar work that would appeal to the broadest spectrum of trad metal buffs. Adding a proto-black metal growl as their main messenger of doom, unfortunately, relegates the bulk of ‘Snow Business’ to the realm of acquired taste. It’s a voice that’ll only really strike a chord with the extreme metal crowd, and its likely that, for some of those guys, the music will be too traditional, or even pedestrian. There’s something good here, but that good has been smothered to the point of an early death. Despite some brilliant music, this is an album to approach with caution.

June 2023