Johann Wolfgang Pozoj almost eclipses the conventional themes of black metal. Ahead of their very strange moniker and sound, the esoteric faction began turning heads back in 2007 with "Birth of Pozoj" and their sophomore return "Escape of Pozoj" in 2009. The Croatia-based group apparently takes their name and lyrical themes from a complex ideology about a dragon in Indo-European lore, partially used to explain the group's odd name and their continuous album titles. Separating the strangeness from what really matters, Johann Wolfgang Pozoj is a totally stellar project on a musical level that astutely boasts a unique cocktail of black metal spirits warmly embracing a multitude of subtlety dynamic avant-garde tints. The work featured throughout "Escape of Pozoj" remains a satisfyingly dark purge into weird black metal after countless testaments of Croatian doom, courtesy of Pozoj's torment.
And as one could probably piece together from the group's bizarre antics, Johann Wolfgang Pozoj doesn't generally sound like a traditional black metal squad. I mean, you got the riffs which usually include the mid-paced chunks and the tremolo picking of basic black metal along with the percussion patterns one could anticipate, but that's hardly the point. The atmosphere the band creates is in a league of its own; sometimes it's created from the chilling guitar or strange samples hovering above the nihilistic deed, but they end up sounding very perplexing and individualistic regardless. The vocals usually stay in harsh territory, but there are increments in which the singer uses a twisted narrative approach that really brings out a new frontier hidden from the listener. Essentially, Johann Wolfgang Pozoj knows just how to tempt and taunt its audience without driving them mad with useless mediocrity, but instead leaving itself open and unpredictable.
The songwriting also transcends beyond the expected norms of black metal, especially throughout the last two anthems ("I Am the Forest," "With Fingers I Slip Down thy Body") which together make up almost half the album. Both tunes are exceptionally remarkable, showcasing the band's ability to craft sensational instrumentation and an ethereal atmosphere through the use of appropriate repetition and ambient-like sections that transfer the group's message perfectly. The final song actually features an excellent folk section that sounds like something Primordial would heave, but alas, it does not feel out of place. The overall realization here is that Johann Wolfgang Pozoj can look like anything or anyone so simply that they're hardly just another black metal band performing just what you'd expect.
The opposite, actually. Johann Wolfgang Pozoj is absolutely magical here; totally unpredictable and dripping scorn from the dragon's venomous incisors. Holding the essential characteristics of a great listen, "Escape of Pozoj" never fails to deliver a mythical essence of black metal reaching through the conventional traits of the sub-genre, almost to the level of evolutionary greatness. Pozoj entered the world fierce and violent, and here, it finds solace and understanding within the natural realm of reality. First the birth, then the escape, and finally...the return of Pozoj. Open your arms to this strange yet bewildering faction and let them take you to another dimension that only Pozoj can visualize.