I did mention the name of Vladimir Prokofiev a couple of times before. However, this was linked to his visual art for cover paintings / drawings. Vladimir is the guy behind the famous Paint-It-Black Design, known for his works for albums by bands like A Thousand Sufferings, Taiga, Vehementor, Ethir Anduin, Istina and many more.
Vladimir is known as musician as well. Under the name Wolfir, he is the vocalist / instrumentalist for a handful of nice projects, like Chertopolokh, Wolfir or the very productive outfit In Tenebriz. I do follow this specific act for quite some time; I also wrote a review for 2018’s Winternight Poetry, apparently. This review will deal with the twelfth (or so) full-length under the In Tenebriz moniker, released via the very open-minded label GrimmDistribution (part of the Satanath family). It comes in a jewel-case edition, which includes a three-folded six-page booklet, containing the Russian lyrics (pay attention: the titles are in English, at least when it comes to the edition meant for our market). Stunning, truly amazing, is the cover-artwork and the visual art inside – evidently done by Mister Wolfir himself. It’s colorful, psychedelic too, and focusing on flowers, insects and wine. As an amateur of wine (flowers and insects can inspire me too in, eh, special occasions) – nope, this thing won’t morph into a wine review…
Anyway, Bitter Wine Of Summer is an eight-track album, written over a period of many years; the earliest fragments were written back in 2012, part of a cycle that finally resulted in its conceptual value. It is the final step within a concept of the seasons, and a huge dose of inspiration seems to come from Dandelion Wine, a novel by American author Ray Bradbury. Allegoric and metaphorical, the protagonist of that book, the allusion of bitter tastes, and the appropriate yet truly stunning artwork are like guides to the sonic side of this album.
And that ‘sonic side’ of Bitter Wine Of Summer, well, it surely continues the path of in-depth atmosphere and emotional grandeur. It is sort of characteristic once more compared to the former material, and different at the same time. Once more, In Tenebriz combine different related (sub) genres, with one thing in common: the lack of joy. It’s a conscious attitude, for man’s doom will always befall. The material is enormously varying within the structural execution and the speed. However, that speed dwells in regions of slow to mid-tempo, lacking an overdose of blasting outbursts. The better part indeed is doomy and slow-paced, including some accelerated moments and quite some sluggish passages.
When talking about that structural variation, I can refer to the many acoustic passages, the diversified harmonies or the aforementioned influence of genres like DSBM (Depressive-Suicidal Black Metal) [yet without the self-mutilating approach; rather focusing on inner tristesse and mournful consciousness], Doom-Death, Gothic Dark Metal, Post-Black, Shoegaze, Funeral Doom, Atmospheric Black Metal and the likes. Also the equilibrium of traditional elements at the one hand, and progressive and modernistic details at the other hand, come with a well-balanced finesse.
The sound quality is unmistakably professional, with every single instrument represented in a decent equilibrium. The acoustic versus the harsher parts, the funereal versus the livid excerpts, the guitar-led versus the rhythmic chapters; the whole album maintains a clean, even catchy productional result. Okay, little more roughness would strengthen the dolor and dander behind the album’s message, but this isn’t but my personal opinion. But one cannot deny the fantastic mix, resulting in a worthy balance of all instruments and voices involved. Once again I can easily refer to the perfected interaction of acoustic and electronic contrasts, or the well-thought interplay of lead and rhythm instrumentation.
As said, the result does not focus on suicidal thoughts or self-mutilating pleasure; it’s rather an interpretation of awareness that sun and rain, Summer’s warmth and Winter’s Arctic coldness, the light of day and the obscurity of a moonless Autumn night, are permanently returning, fading away, reappearing, evolving and repeatedly existent. The whole sonic adventure translates the conceptual storytelling, with a fine dose of nostalgia and melancholy, misery and mystification, sadness and resignation, wonder and mysticism. Flowers, butterflies and wine define the cozy beauty of Summer, but the protagonist realizes that each season eventually comes to an end. Autumn knocks at the door, and the metaphorical introspection, desolation, coldness and greyness of that new season, inevitable and undeniable, gets intensively translated through In Tenebriz’ Aural Art. The taste of wine gets a bitter aftertaste…