Written, recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by Sami Tuohino. Cover photo by Livia S. Released on Bandcamp 1 October 2021.
Having only recently returned to reviewing records following the death of my mother, I was going through a backlog of emails, having a quick listen to each submission to triage which releases I wanted to review and which I should pass by. I already had a list drawn up for the next month or two, but that all got put to one side when I listened to Crno IV from Oenos. It jumped straight to the front of the queue.
Released in October last year, Crno IV is the latest release from Finish solo project Oenos, aka Sami Tuihino. In keeping with his previous three releases, all his songs are written under the influence of wine and both the release and songs are named after the wines drunk during the writing process: Nero I (2017), Noir II (2019), Musta III (2020) and now Crno IV (2021).
Tuihino describes his music as ‘post-metal’, although explains that inevitably some black metal and doom/sludge metal elements have a tendency to creep in. They certainly crept into the title, ‘crno‘ is the Croatian word for ‘black’. This EP, Tuihino explains, emerged from a place of anxiety and explore failure, fear, apathy and the state of our dying planet.
This EP is nothing if not atmospheric. On first listen, I found myself reaching for comparisons with Justin Broadrick’s Godflesh and especially Jesu projects. On my second and subsequent listens, I realised that I’m going to struggle to not use the word ‘atmospheric’ about each track.
“Real Rubio” (track 1) is a ten-minute doom-laden journey through an
atmospheric ethereal sonic landscape. Chunky, post-metal sludgy riffs grind between a carefully-picked melody above and shivering strings beneath. This could be the soundtrack to the apocalypse. What melancholy, what breadth, what
“Groundwork” (track 2) is an equally ponderous track that reminds me strongly of the later offerings from Tom G Warrior (Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Apollon Sun, Triptykon). The mid-tempo bass riff that pounds throughout the song drives a groove deeper and deeper into your soul, to be joined by swirling, screaming vocals. And then suddenly, the storm clears for a clean, picked chord progression and thoughtful guitar solo that guides the song to its sorrowful conclusion.
“St Maur” (track 3) opens with a thunderously low bass riff and is soon joined by swooping guitar lines and crashing drums. The lyrics quietly gurgle.
There are ways to drown out your hate
You can always self medicate
You don’t need to torture yourself
Anymore or ever
There is a distinctly gothic feel to this song—think somewhere between late-80s Sisters of Mercy fused with early-90s Paradise Lost. Good stuff!
The EP closes with the melancholic “P.S. I Love You The Liberator” (track 4). It opens with a lamentful Mellotron and strings-driven melody, before a granite-like riff that wouldn’t feel out of place on Celtic Frost’s Monotheist (2006) explodes into view. This soundtrack to our dying planet needs to be played loudly as the lights are switched off for the final time.
If I’d discovered this EP sooner, Crno IV could easily have been amongst my favourite releases of 2021. Maybe it’s just the state of the world right now—global pandemic, war in Ukraine, British politics creeping worryingly towards fascism, the rising cost of living and poverty in the UK; maybe it’s just a reflection of the pain that I’ve endured for the last few years—unemployment, illness, grief—but I find this anxious, dark soundtrack to our dying planet somewhat soothing. I could listen to this on repeat. I can’t really find fault with it, it would be unjust to give it anything less than full marks.
Review score: 100%
Listen to the whole 27′ 39″ EP on Oenos’s YouTube channel: