Even if you're a Pagan Metal aficionado, chances are big you've never heard of JANVS. From the land of the pizza and the mafia, this two-piece band promise intense and melancholic music with substance, rooted in the Black Metal world but branching out into the melodic and sorrowful skies of paganism.
There is a certain mood floating around this entire album, a tranquil mist of melancholia and longing, making every twist and turn stirr with emotion. Even though the lyrics are in Italian, which adds an exotic nuance, the press release accompanying "Fvlgvres" states that «conceptually the album is based upon the shattering of human limits and condition, upon the longing and the temporary conquest of real moments of awareness and contact with the peaks of transcendence». In simpler terms, the lyrical themes transcends our known reality and explores themes like enlightenment and otherworldliness, which is another step away from the usual metal formula.
Musically, JANVS have found the fragile line between anger and lament and threads it with captivating elegance. Drawing parallels to the Ukrainian masterminds of DRUDKH, the music is like a vibrant flame, shifting between mournful acoustic plucking and powerful more traditional Black Metal. The beautiful instrumental track "Vesper" is perhaps most comparable to ULVER's "Kveldssanger", entrancing in its serene acoustic strumming and sounds of chirping birds, conjuring alluring images of untouched nature. On the other hand, the title track is charged with ferocity and rage, which is accompanied with more calm progressive passages.
Productionwise there is little to nitpick at, but it's worth noting that contrary to many similar-sounding bands, JANVS have abandoned the organic and earthy mix in favor of a more refined and polished sound. Everything is kept clear and audible, without any strangulation of the instruments. This might be because the music isn't really centered around pagan or heathen themes in particular, but it gives everything a much welcomed bite to it, leaving a lasting impression of a very complete piece of art.
As I've already mentioned, the many variables here come together almost seamlessly to form a quite enjoyable oneness. It might be a little lacking in originality, and while some songs aren't as vigorous as the musical peaks ("Vesper", "Pivme D'Arcangelo", and "Melencolia"), it still manages to hold my attention throughout the entire 40 or so minutes and makes me return for more. The future holds exciting things for these Italians, and I for one will make sure not to take my eyes off how they progress.
(Online January 25, 2008)