Stefan Petanovski is a progressive metal artist from Macedonia who is preparing to release his second album as a solo act. A musician who has been part of countless groups and left his mark on many albums, his main musical output comes from his band Station: Innermost. However, his 2019 album ‘Architect of Reality’ marked the beginning of a new musical adventure for Petanovski, allowing him to hone his compositional and production skills. With the exception of Stefan Mitev (bass), Ana Petanovski (vocals) and a host of guest musicians, Petanovski has solely pieced together the follow-up titled ‘Eros’, an improved development from the debut that showcases a fuller and richer sound.
As a guitarist, Petanovski’s solo work is very much guitar-based, whether that be crunchy, hard-hitting riffs, frantic solos or intricate acoustic work. ‘Eros’ is no exception to this, but what really gives his second album the punch that his debut lacked is Mitev’s bass which obviously sounds bolder than the programmed bass on the debut. Moreover, it is clear from the album’s complex passages, characterised by rapid turns and twists, that having a real bass player has broadened Petanovski’s compositional palette so that his guitars are able to interplay with the bass to a larger extent. The complexity is made greater by the uncompromising drums that Petanovski has programmed in himself, constantly filling and complementing the de-tuned guitars with their deep and boomy sound. A range of lush synths, contrasting the overall bass-heavy timbre with their light and airy sound, are used in abundance to make an already full sounding band seem even fuller – perhaps becoming even too saturated at points. But this is not necessarily a bad thing; the chaos and relentlessness prevalent throughout the album define the sound Petanovski is going for here – and it sounds impressive!
The second track on the album ‘New Moon’, best exemplifies this latter point – there is a lot to take in and assess. Moving from section to section at quite some speed, the guitars slash away against a canvas of background noise where instruments seem to fight for a place in the mix. The resulting battle that takes place throughout the song leaves no room for breath and is therefore perhaps the most intense and chaotic song on the album. The 12 minute epic track ‘The Path, Life’s Light and Suffering’, has its fair share of these intense moments but these are complemented with more straightforward sections that allow the music to breath. These often come in the anthemic ‘chorus’ like sections that showcase the powerful voice of Ana Petanovski over some huge open guitar chords. With the album being mostly guitar orientated, it is refreshing to hear her dominant presence throughout the epic. A cleaner sound can be heard on ‘Ocean Wave’ as guitar and saxophone solos are accompanied by rich and delicately played acoustic guitars. A long reverb on the guitar solo gives this piece a very spacious and fluid sound, much like that of an ocean coincidentally. The piece takes a darker turn as those distorted guitars make a return and inspire a sense of dread within the listener; but all too soon, this darkness is quickly swept away and the piece ends the same way it began. The short-lived ‘Cafune’ is similarly cleaner, contrasting the doom-laden moments on the album with a playful, light-hearted sensibility. Characterised by articulate acoustic guitar and sprawling piano lines underscored by subtle jungle noises, the piece is a brief diversion into a thriving world of colour and nature. But perhaps the most interesting track is the opener ‘Tanaka’ which introduces the sounds of the jungle that crop up throughout the album and assert its thematic concept. Beautiful orchestration, bouncy percussion and tribal chants make up this majestic piece of music, reminding me of Peter Gabriel’s solo work in some ways. I wish it went on longer but in this case less is more and it does an excellent job at grabbing the listener’s attention and setting up what is to come on the rest of the album – keep an ear out for the repeated musical motifs that neatly tie everything together and solidify the albums’s concept.
There is a lot to digest here and only one listen is not enough to be able to fully appreciate the work that Petanovski has put into it – there is a great deal happening in every song. It is unbelievable that he has composed, recorded and produced this largely by himself and should be seen as a testament to his exceptional musical skills. With the album due out in March this year, there is plenty of time for you all to prepare yourselves for the delight that is ‘Eros’!
Written by Dominic Sanderson
You can find Stefan Petanovski on Facebook and Instagram! ‘Eros’ will be released on 10th March 2021 on all major streaming platforms!