From Kraków, Poland, comes the extreme metal quintet Medico Peste, who have just now released their sophomore album “The Black Bile”, coming eight years after their debut.
Featuring two live members of Polish metal giants Mgła (whose main songwriter M. has co-produced “The Black Bile”), Medico Peste present themselves as a band that “embrace a different look at death, religion, the Devil and his work, by exploring the distorted views of a tormented, neurotic subject and his schizophrenic visions.”
Standing between the psychosis of Shining and the circus gimmickry of Pensées Nocturnes, Medico Peste roots their sound on dissonant black metal, while taking tips mostly out of post-punk (their cover of Bauhaus’ “Stigmata Martyr” is proof of their veneration of the genre) and from avant-garde music as well.
Despite the band’s name, which might be found ironic in the current world pandemic (for Portuguese speakers, Medico Peste literally means “Doctor Plague”), the subject matter of “The Black Bile” leans more towards conceptual, philosophical themes than to odes to virulent mass extinction. The greatest example of it is the track “Were Saviours Believers?” – its own title points to the topic dealt in its lyrics, which dissect the role of religion from a skeptic point of view. Isn’t religion just a tool to make “the simpletons obey”? Isn’t it just a false hope given at life’s end, “a cane for the old”? Did the so-called saviours believe in their own prophecies?
Regarding production, both M. and The Fall (bassist and one of the guitarists for Medico Peste) push all the instruments to a solid mix. Lazarus’ raspy bellows, reminiscent of Asphyx’s Martin van Drunen, are placed front and center, surrounded by the drums and all the strings. Each one of them has their chance to shine, as the prevalent moody soundscapes of the album leave room for them to show their worth. The experimental fleets also bear some truly outstanding moments, like the jazzy interplay of the bass and the high-hat hiss which carries “Skin” on its back.
Notwithstanding, when Medico Peste pushes for its pure black metal vein (like in the speedier section of “Numinous Catastrophe”) things tend to get a bit muddy, as Lazarus’ vocal performance is stifled by the surrounding maelstrom. Furthermore, at 50 minutes long, one might wonder if “The Black Bile” wouldn’t carry a greater punch if it got trimmed a bit here and there – “Holy Opium”, for example, has little variation for its 6-minute duration, paling in comparison to the other tracks.
Those are but minor flaws in an overall great offering from these Poles. Two studio albums and one EP may sound like scant output for a decade-old project, but there’s definitely a lot of pondering and preparation behind Medico Peste’s schizophrenic offerings…