Album Premiere: Snøgg – Dan, ko je Vrag vzel šalo


Black metal is at its best when it looks away from the mirror. Far too many bands keep their eyes on the rearview—Slovenia’s Snøgg, meanwhile, has left the road and is doing donuts in the median. The band describes themselves as “freeride black metal.” By this, they seem to mean they operate unconstrained by genre and even artform, borrowing from millennia of human weirdness to create black metal by turns cosmic and folkloric. On past records, Snøgg dipped into topics ranging from Greenlandic mythology to Mayan lore. Their single-song new album Dan, ko je Vrag vzel šalo (The Day the Devil Took the Joke) stays closer to home, using strings and Slovenian literary history to map a detailed 20-minute journey that passes through Panopticon melodies and Grey Aura historicity on its way to a terrifying encounter with the devil himself.

The album draws from what historians regard as the first Slovenian-language novel, Deseti brat (The Tenth Brother) by Josip Jurčič. It specifically focuses on a scene in the novel in which a local sailor, Krjavelj, drunkenly spins his yarn of fighting the devil on board a ship. In a departure from the book, the devil (“Vrag”) responds. Vocalist Ulv and several collaborators bring this dialogue vividly to life. Says Ulv, who also handles guitar, bass, and keyboard:

It sometimes happens that things in your life turn upside down overnight. I think a lot of people can relate to that in these really weird times. In [the] Slovenian language, we use the expression “vrag je vzel šalo,” which directly translates to “[the] devil took the joke.” This is what happened to Krjavelj in our spin-off to Josip Jurčič’s novel.

Slovenian history, like its neighbors’, is marked by pitched battles of David and Goliath, whether that Goliath be Habsburg historicism, Italian fascist brutalism, or the great Yugoslav fracture of the ’90s. DKJVVŠ feels like a distillation of this bipolar dynamic.

Whether through rustic string arrangements or diabolical spoken word, Snøgg takes their freeride black metal on a psychedelic, historical voyage on Dan, ko je Vrag vzel šalo. Stream this entire opus of literary black metal below before its release later this week.

Dan, ko je Vrag vzel šalo comes out March 1 via Bandcamp.

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